North Korean YouTuber says he didn’t know trans people existed till he fled the country

A North Korean YouTuber has said that he didn’t know about the existence of transgender people until he left the country.

North Korean refugee Jang Myung-jin, 32, vlogs about his experience growing up in the country on YouTube.

His channel offers a rare insight into the daily lives of people in North Korea.

In clips uploaded to his two-year-old channel, Myung-jin said that he did not know about the existence of trans people until he left the country – although he had heard about gay people in North Korea – according to Californian daily newspaper The Fresno Bee.

North Korean defector Jang Myung-jin says he did not know trans people existed before leaving the country.

Jang Myung-jin said he didn’t know trans people existed before fleeing the country. (북한남자 탱고/YouTube)

Discussing daily life, he said that many North Koreans raise rabbits, pigs, chickens and dogs – but often to eat or sell at the market, rather than as pets.

Myung-jin, who now lives in South Korea, explained that he and his family fled North Korea in 1998 to escape a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the country, including his school friend and first love.

YouTuber vlogs about daily life in North Korea.

Myung-jin, who delivers food and does manual labour to support himself alongside vlogging, sometimes invites other North Korean refugees onto his channel to discuss their experiences, too.

North Korea, run by a dictatorship under Kim Jong-un, is known for being an extremely secretive country, which has been heavily criticised by human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Few defectors manage to escape the totalitarian regime.

Three years ago, another North Korean refugee – believed to be the country’s only openly gay defector – discussed how he realised his sexuality in an interview with The New York Times.

“I was too embarrassed [at first] to confess that I [defected] because I felt no sexual attraction to my wife… I couldn’t explain what it was that bothered me so much,” he said.

“I didn’t know until after I arrived here that I was a gay, or even what homosexuality was.”