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Choi MA

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.


Choi MA crossed the border into China with a friend in 2001 after being swindled out of her money by a fisherman. Upon arrival, they were both sold to a farmer by a Chinese family they had asked for help. After living a year at this place Choi MA escaped and worked as a house and restaurant helper. Later she was arrested by the police. In April 2004 Choi MA was repatriated to North Korea but managed to escape for a second time in October 2004. Eventually she was able to make it to South Korea.

I came from xx county in NK, a merchant who sells and buys at the market by suing money from my friend. I was doing fish business. One day I wanted to buy fish cheaper direct from the fishing boat, I gave all the money I had. But he was a swindler. I couldn't get a penny back from this fisherman.

So, I had to leave my home to China to make money with my friend. We were too hungry in China, so we went into a Chinese family house, where we met an old couple who received us kindly by offering us some food to fill our stomach. They even offered us a place to sleep. The next day, their son came and offered me a working place. I left my friend there and followed him. Since then, I have never met my friend again. I was introduced to a family of Mother and son, farmer. I worked hard for a year, but I could never see any money on my hand. I couldn't live like that.

So, I left that house thinking of my children whom I left behind in NK. I got a job as a house worker in Mudanjiang city. But I couldn't work more than 5 months because of fear of arrest. I worked at a doctor's office but I was arrested to the police on April, 2004. After repatriation, I was confined at Onsung a local detention center till I was released and re-escaped from NK on Oct. 2004. I worked again at Mudanjiang area at restaurants, tea house and so on. Then I was looking for the way to S. Korea. But it wasn't easy. Whenever I met Koreans or Korean-Chinese, I always asked them to get me to S. Korea. One day, a Korean-Chinese approached me saying that if I listen to him, he would let me come to S. Korea. I followed him for 4 years, but nothing had happened from him.

I ran away from him after 4 years to the Mudanjiang city again. But later he found me and called me to come down to Guangzhou, southern province where he found a way to S. Korea. So I went there to meet him but it was again a lie. However there I could find a group in S. Korea that could help me to come to S. Korea. This is how I got to know and connected 318 Partners Rescue Mission. Please help me to achieve my dream to come to S. Korea.


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