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Kim Jo

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.

In 2002 Kim Jo travelled to China wanting to start a business to support her family. However, upon arrival she was sol to a poultry farmer and forced to marry. The man that trafficked her offered Kim Jo money to escape her buyers, re-selling her each time to different people. In 2006 Kim Jo was deported back to North Korea where she was placed in a detention centre. In February 2007, Kim Jo finally left North Korea for good.

I was a merchant selling goods at XX city market in Hamkyung province, I was severely sick for 3 months from Sept, 2002 to spend all the money saved for the business. My mother's wealth wasn't that good either; however, she could borrow me 1,000 won in NK money to start over in business. I went out to do the buying and selling at the market. But the money I had was too little to make profit. One day, I met a young girl at the market who asked me about my business and told me if I come to China, I could make much more there. Then she introduced me to a man whom I could follow to China. But it wasn't like what the young girl told me when I was found in China later. She was one of the team of traffickers. But, no time to regret, I have decided that I have already made it into China and I would make money on my own.

We, together with other 4 NK women, walked from Changbei for 3 days to Limgang. I asked the man who brought me to China that I wouldn't marry anyone, but want to make money, instead. But as he pretended to help me, he sold me to a man who was a poultry farmer. As I was staying there for 3 days, I realized they were going to marry me. So that night I escaped from them. Even though I didn't know the language or area, as we walked all the way when we got there, I could find the man's house who I was first sold to. That man was so frightened when he saw me, then, immediately he was so happy to see me that I could escape from the buyer's home. He offered me 500 RMB every time I could escape from the place he sold me to. Since then, I was sold to various places, then, I escaped from that place. But he often didn't give me 500 RMB. I felt bad whenever he cheated others and didn't get my share. So I just made myself at home till now to a man whom I met when I was sold in Jilin province. When I was settled at this man's house, I asked him that I needed to make money to support my family in NK. He agreed and started to help me to have a business in Baisan city, where I met a Korean-Chinese woman. However, her husband found me as a NK woman, he had approached me to have an affair. I immediately refused. Then, after failed numerous attempts to get to know me, he informed me to the police on Nov. 2006 as an illegal NK refugee.

I was arrested and repatriated to NK. In my hometown detention center, my mother rescued me by bribing the security official when I was in a deadly disease. I was released and, fortunately, I was recovered. Then in Feb, 2007, I left NK again but at this time for good. I have decided that I wouldn't comeback to NK anymore. But it wasn't safe to live in China without any proper documents. By that time, I got a call from a NK refugee friend who had made to S. Korea. She introduced me a Korean NGO and connected to 318 Partners Mission. Please give me your mercy and help me to get to S. Korea where I can live freely without fear of being repatriated into NK. Thank you.


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