The Kippumjo or Gippeumjo (translated variously as Pleasure Group, Pleasure Groups, Pleasure Squad, Pleasure Brigade, Joy Brigade, or Joy Division) is an alleged collection of groups of approximately 2,000 women and girls that is maintained by the head of state of North Korea for the purpose of providing pleasure, mostly of a sexual nature, and entertainment for high-ranking Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) officials and their families, as well as occasionally distinguished guests.
The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said that the group that used to perform for Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, was disbanded shortly after the elder Kim's death in December 2011. The members were made to sign a pledge of secrecy in exchange for money and gifts. According to the paper, the women who worked as entertainers received an amount of money worth $4,000 before returning to their hometowns. The girls in the squad would also receive as compensation home appliances.
Little is known outside North Korea about the Gippeumjo, but information has gradually emerged through the testimony of North Koreans who have defected.
The alleged Gippeumjo was established in 1978, during the administration of Kim Il-sung. The first group was recruited by Lee Dong Ho, the First Vice Director of the Department of United Front of the WPK, for the purpose of entertaining Kim at the Munsu Chodaeso (문수 초대소; Munsu Guesthouse). The practice was continued by his son, Kim Jong Il, until his own death in 2011. The recruiting and training of Gippeumjo are currently administered by the Fifth Department of Staff of the Organic Direction of the Party.
Kim Jong Un is reportedly seeking new members for his own Gippeumjo, after his father's group of girls were disbanded in December 2011.
Each pleasure group is composed of three teams:
- Manjokjo (hangul: 만족조; hanja: 滿足組) – a satisfaction team (which provides sexual services)
- Haengbokjo (hangul: 행복조; hanja: 幸福組) – a happiness team (which provides massages)
- Gamujo (hangul: 가무조; hanja: 歌舞組) – a dancing and singing team (whose members are sometimes asked to dance semi-nude)
Girls from throughout the country are recruited to be Gippeumjo members according to government criteria (one of which is that they must be virgins). After being selected, they undergo a rigorous training period, with some Haengbokjo members being sent overseas for massage training. Gippeumjo members typically leave at age 22 or 25. At that time they are often married to members of North Korea's elite—and are also sometimes paired off with military officers seeking wives—and their former membership in the Gippeumjo is kept secret.
The first two syllables of the name, gippeum, is a native Korean word meaning joy or happiness. The suffix jo (組) is a Sino-Korean word which describes a group of people. Kim Il-sung is believed to have established this corps of women in the belief that having sexual relations with young women would increase his jing and have the effect of enhancing his life force, or gi (hangul: 기; hanja: 氣; no relation to the gi in gippeum).
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