A total of 6,452 North Korean women were repatriated to their country of origin from 2005-16, but Pyongyang recently told a United Nations agency “most” of the returnees were not punished.
North Korea made the statement to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Voice of America reported Friday.
Pyongyang submitted the statistic on women returnees to the U.N., an unprecedented move for the regime, according to VOA.
North Korea also said in its statement the women crossed the border illegally because of economic hardships, or because they fell victim to trafficking groups.
Pyongyang did not specify whether the human traffickers intercepted the women in North Korea, or outside the country, in areas of China near the border.
North Korea claimed the women, upon their return, were not subject to punishment, and that they now enjoy a stable life in their homeland.
In its statement, the Kim Jong Un regime went on to say only 33 of the more than 6,000 women repatriated were punished.
Reasons cited for their punishment include charges of drug trafficking and attempted murder while outside the country.
North Korea’s assertions, however, contradict reports from U.N. human rights agencies.
U.N.-commissioned reports have pointed out North Koreans face grave human rights violations, including beatings and torture, upon repatriation.
Women in particular have testified about rape in North Korean detention, and defectors have said women returnees are sometimes forced to undergo abortions after living in China as refugees.
By Elizabeth Shim