North Korea's Winter Olympics cheerleaders 'forced into sex slavery'

Peter Stubley

The North Korean cheerleaders at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are used as sex slaves by top politicians, a defector has claimed.

Lee So-yeon, a 42-year-old former military musician who fled to South Korea in 2008, said dancers and singers were forced to strip and provide sexual services at parties held every day for the country’s Central Politburo.

Members of the decision-making committee include North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the President Kim Yong-nam.

Ms Lee told Bloomberg: “North Korea’s art troupe came here and performed with fancy dances and songs, but not only do they have to be in charge of Kim Jong-un’s propaganda, they also have to go to parties and provide sexual services.

“These parties are held every day for the Central Politburo. And even if they don’t want this they have to serve with their bodies, like a human rights infringement.

“The women there, when they attend, they have to undress. They are asked to undress like objects. That’s the physical pain they have to go through.”

Her claims are said to be based on past incidents that may date back several years.

The athletes who took part in the Games were also described as “slaves” by Kim Hyung-soo, 54, who defected to South Korea in 2009 with his son, a competitive skier.

“In one word, athletes are Kim Jong-un’s sports ‘slaves’. Even the coaches are slaves to Kim Jong-un, and to the North Korean regime,” he said.

“Because in North Korea, Kim Jong-un and the regime is the entire world. The athletes and the cheerleaders, too. They are all Kim Jong-un and North Korea’s slaves. The cheerleaders, too. They select people who are unlikely to defect, and people with loyal backgrounds. This factor is crucial from a very early stage.”

The cheerleading squads have been described as an “army of beauties” by Han Seo-hee, a former member of the group.

She told the BBC how the women were handpicked for their good looks and forced into three months of ideological training to ensure their loyalty to the regime.