With a big hat tip to The Marmot’s Hole, and after long delay, here is an interesting article published in the Joongang Ilbo in August.

Keeping in mind the reconciliation mode that the North-South relationship has entered, we examined the current situation. Does North Korea have pornography and adult products? Numerous reports we heard said the answer is “yes”. Truly, how could there not be adult products in a place where humans live.

This matches the transition to the rule of Chairman Kim Jong-il, known to be a lover of mass media and erotica, from the repressive regime of Kim Il-sung.

As soon as the transition had been made sexy magazines and books began to appear, led by ‘은밀한 이야기’, which collected sexy stories and dirty books. In the mid-1990s ‘피죽도 못 먹은 것 같은’ secretly filmed North Korean dancers dancing nude or in bikinis, but the unfunny truth is that that and other adult products were seized by authorities as soon as they were disseminated.

The price of renting it is just 1,000 won in our currency, but for ordinary people, not authorities, to view it that price would require them to give up eating and drinking. Even so, a person may desperately save up enough money for it beginning as a middle school student, desiring the satisfaction of basic instincts even in the face of starvation.

The North Korea-produced adult film ‘공화국 비화’ (“The Degradation of the Republic”), depicting pretty girls and, of course, female warriors being repeatedly violated, was smuggled out and translated into Japanese by North Korean refugees hired to do so.

It was sold in Japan for 2,650 yen, but with the explanation that “this is not being sold for the arousal of interest but distributed solely as research material.” Of course near the Chinese border the distribution of pornography is in the open.

North Korea is a nation where the doors of the Kaesong Industrial Park were shuttered and prison sentences handed out after the discovery that photographs showing foreign models in their underwear were being placed into packages of women’s underwear. Sex crimes including rape, and normal sexual relationships, are rampant, but the lack of sex education leads to unsafe abortions performed by surgery or via pills handed free of charge by hospitals.

Ordinary people are often forced into prostitution to have enough to eat. On the outskirts of major cities, minbak guest houses are turning into red-light districts and despite the banning of prostitution a shockingly large number of women are doing it in order to eat. They charge 5,000 won in our currency per night including sleeping time.

Foreign media criticize not only the neglect of the average person but the dumbfounding taboos on sex despite the cheap availability of erotica and adult products. This is because of the cheap members-only clubs and restuarants frequented by the authorities.

Though imagining itself to be pure, North Korean sexual culture is highly depraved because of its opposition to freedom. It is easy to imagine that if reunification occurs the starving North Koreans and the culturally diverse South Koreans will be unable to get along.

Lee Eung-jun’s well-received novel ‘국가의 사생활’ (“The Life of the Nation”) was the first to depict North Korea-born women as whores and authorities as pimps. But do we, as the author says, have to meet that way? We want to see the true, not the fake with subtitles. That is one reason the desire for reunification may be too much.