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.
Kim Young-Ae, left North Korea during the famine of 1999. However upon arrival in China, she was locked inside a house and subjected to physical and sexual abuse daily.
There was nothing to eat, we didn’t even have any gruel left, so we had to appease our hunger with weeds we plucked from the fields, we boiled ragweed and ate it with a little corn flour.
We are treated worse than animals. They take care of their animals better, as they’ll make money selling them some day, but North Korean women are locked up inside the house, sometimes forced to live with three widowers in the same household, constantly facing the aggression and contempt of those surrounding us. They would even take turns to sexually assault us.
We live under constant disdain, we don’t have a country, grief overwhelms us at all times, and the best we can do is cry and pound our fists on the ground when no one is watching… Some look down on us because we came from a poor country, some pity us, but no one regards us as human beings.
I would like to see the situation in North Korea improve. I hope our people will never have to go through this again, being sold like worthless merchandise in China.
Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.