Open Menu

Keum-Ju Kim

2010 (Narrative date)

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children 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.

Keum-Ju Kim left North Korea in 2009, travelling with a neighbour to China. However once she arrived, her neighbour sold her to a Chinese man.

I left NK in 2009 following a woman into China because it wasn't easy to live on my own in NK. She was my neighbor who I knew very well. She knew that I was living poor, she had suggested me to go to China to have a better life there. She told me that in China, I wouldn't go hungry. So, because of my status in NK, I was forced to follow her. I crossed the river with her by the guidance of a border security guard. I came to Yanji with her and she made money from a Korean Chinese boss and left. I was alone. Since then, I was taught how to do computer work and what was the so called Computer Chatting Industry. I didn't know what the meaning of Chatting was in the beginning. He guided me on how to do everything in the very beginning. He threatened me that if I don't follow him, he would report me to the police. If I don't do what he told me to do, he will curse me. I had to follow what he told me to do and followed the client's request. I only know that I am in Yanji city but I don't know where I am. I had never been out since. It is very hard for me to live like this. I would rather go back to NK living without freedom and poverty. By then, I had a Korean client who wanted to help me out of there. I asked him to help and he told me he would find a way. He gave me your number to reach and finally I was given a chance for now that I could get out of this place. Can I go to S. Korea and live free over there? I want to leave here as soon as possible. Please help me. Thank you.


Narrative provided by Escaping North Korea: The Plight of Defectors: Hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission House of Representative