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Kang Sun-Mi

2007 (Narrative date)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the  country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death.

Kang Sun-Mi, 35, was forced to marry a Chinese man after he ‘bought’ her. She was subjected to physical abuse and had her movement restricted, being locked inside the house.


My [Chinese] husband is 47 years old, has no particular work skills and is quite ill. I am not the only North Korean woman living in this area. As I was talking to some of the others, we came to realize that we had been sold into this kind of marriage. Last time my husband hit me, he even said: ‘You, do you have any idea how much I paid for you?’ Chinese men who live in poverty and have no professional skills cannot get married. That is why they buy North Korean brides for a very low price.

For fear I might run away, they lock me up inside the house and that is how I spend countless days, without seeing the world outside.


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