Kim Jong-un has ordered for the executions of six people connected to a high-class prostitution ring of top university students this week. The condemnation came months after the North Korean ruler ordered for a crackdown on teenagers having sex and blamed the rise on “decadent capitalist influence”. Despite the strong stance from the hermit state, the nation has a dark history that prominently featured the use of sex workers by the elite.
Kim Il-sung, the first dictator in the dynasty’s 72 year reign over the nation, was long known as a womaniser – who had countless affairs and illegitimate children, which stretched back as far as the Thirties when he fought against Japan.
The then-ruler, known as ‘The Great Leader’, and his son Kim Jong-il, who died of a heart attack in 2011, were alleged to have a voracious appetite for women and used their power to fulfil the desire.
North Korea expert Chris Mikul claimed they felt it was “their right to deflower the prettiest girls in the land”, which they carried out “on an industrial scale”.
Towards the end of the Korean War in the Fifties, a special unit was set-up within the north’s Central Committee to select women to join what would later be known as ‘The Joy Brigade’.
It was their role to scour schools across the country for young girls with a specific criteria – “pretty, no more than 5ft 4 inches tall, and have soft voices and no scars”.
After their induction into the group they were given two years of training in singing, dancing and “satisfying the sexual preferences of the Great Leader, and later his son”.
The young girls were then distributed among numerous villas in the country “ready to provide their services should one of the Kims turn up”, Mikul wrote in his book ‘My Favourite Dictators’ last year.
He claimed that a family would have considered it a “great honour” if their daughter was selected as part of the Joy Brigade – but many were “unaware that sexual services were involved”.
After a few years, which their parents were compensated for with “material benefits”, the girls would be married off to young men within the nation’s Workers’ Party
The Joy Brigade were thought to have played an “important part” in the regime’s effort to keep Kim Il-sung alive – who died of a heart attack in 1994.
Mr Mikul wrote that it followed: “The Chinese belief that a man could live longer by sleeping with young girls.”
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One of the most bizarre tasks of the Joy Brigade was the “so called ‘human-bed’”, which involved a “number of girls lying with their legs interlocked in a certain way, allowing the Great Leader to sleep on them”.
The group, officially known as the Gippeumjo or Kippumjo, are still believed to exist after Kim Jong-un was reported to have been looking for new recruits, according to a number of 2015 reports.
Mr Mikul told Express.co.uk: “To state the obvious it’s a fairly sexist society, the existence of the Joy Brigade and so on is the mindset of a dictator rather than a reflection of the country.
“The average North Korean would be horrified by that and that’s something they probably don’t know about.
“But having said that, the average North Korean knows more about the outside world, so possibly knows more about the inner workings of the regime.
“I believe that most North Koreans would know about the Joy Brigade and have heard a rumour but not believed it.”