Cornell International Law Journal


Jina Yang


Women's rights, North Korea, DPRK


It is commendable that the DPRK has ratified the CEDAW and has established legislative measures to protect women from violence and guarantee equal protection. However short of internationally accepted human rights standard the DPRK may fall, such actions show that the DPRK is nonetheless trying to be a responsible member of the international community. However, many findings show that women’s rights are far from reaching the international standards, because of patriarchal traditions that are entrenched to the North Korean society and the national institutions related to women’s rights, which are used to mobilize women to work for the state, rather than represent their rights. North Korean women are still very vulnerable to becoming victims of domestic violence, sexual violence (especially by public officials), forced abortions in detention facilities and forced labor without effective legal protections. Violence and discrimination against women have persistently continued without significant resistance from North Korean women due to their general lack of knowledge of their rights.

In order to improve the rights of North Korean women, concerted international efforts to understand harsh realities of North Korean women and advocate for their rights are crucial. Furthermore, considering the magnitude and gravity of violations against women’s rights, the relevant bodies of treaty should develop and implement strategies to pressure the DPRK to truly implement and enforce the international human rights treaties including the CEDAW and the legal formalities already established within the DPRK.