Are the claims of homophobia in the dprk true?
We recommend directing questions like these (or any other DPRK related subject) to @juchechat as our comrades there are quite knowledgeable on the country.
But to answer your question: there is no reliable or peer reviewed study on the DPRK regarding this matter, and relying on the statements and confessions of defectors who are handsomely paid large quantities in exchange of horror stories means accepting anti-DPRK propaganda as a valid source of information.
From what we know, there are no laws in the DPRK that actively condemn or persecute same gender attraction and same gender attracted people. Homophobia most certainly exists as it exists in any other nation in the world, even ones with more ‘progressive’ legislation. Defectors, for what they’re worth, have commonly reported that they had no exposure to the question of same gender attraction or even LGBT until they arrived in South Korea
(LGBT rights are no better in South Korea) – but of course LGBT people exist in the DPRK.
It’s also important to realise that the relationship between men and women in the DPRK does not correspond with general western views – close same gender relationships between unmarried people are not viewed as unusual, men or women holding hands with each other and showing physical affection towards each other is a common sight, just not interpreted as a couple relationship.
Needlessly to say this is a subject that has seen little investigation other than attempting to besmirch the DPRK.