South Korean Military Officers Charged for Raping North Korean Defector Under Their Protection

The woman's lawyer said she became pregnant twice from the assaults and was pressured to have abortions.
south korea
A soldier, unrelated to the rape case, stands at the fence of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. Photo: AFP / Ed JONES

Two South Korean intelligence officers were charged for raping a female North Korean defector, officials said.

A spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense confirmed to VICE News that the Ministry of National Defense Prosecutor's Office took legal action against the two officers on Monday, August 31.

The woman was under the protection of the two male officers when the crimes were committed between May 2018 and February 2019. According to the United Press International news agency, the woman was reported to have “sensitive information” about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the officers were instructed to obtain.

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The men were a lieutenant colonel and a master sergeant. The former was charged with sexual assault and coercion, and the latter was charged with rape, officials confirmed to VICE News.

The woman filed a criminal complaint against the two military men last year, detailing the assaults. According to Yonhap news agency, a lawyer for the woman said she became pregnant twice and was pressured to have abortions.

The woman was first raped by the master sergeant in May 2018, Yonhap reported. He continued to sexually assault her over time. The woman sought the help of the lieutenant colonel, who also raped her, the outlet added.

According to Yonhap news agency, the men are under investigation and have since been removed from their duties.

South Korean politician Yang Hyang-ja condemned the officers’ abuse of power in a Facebook post on Wednesday, September 2. She asked: “who is the army for?” and urged action against the two men.