An entire industry of trafficking women from North Korea into China, where they are sold to “husbands” who hold them with physical and sexual assaults as well as demands they perform backbreaking labor, has been documented by Radio Free Asia.
North Korea’s city of Pyongyang
The organization has reported that North Korea, which already has been documented as the world’s worst violator of religious rights and freedoms and has been the subject of a series of WND reports about abuses against Christians and women, routinely lures women from regions near the Chinese border across the international boundary into what amounts to slavery.
“A woman from our village, who said she’d been to China, told me that we could make some money there, so I followed her and crossed the Tumen River,” Jeong Soo-Ok told RFA. But instead of money, she found traffickers who caught her and sold her.
“Before I even knew it, I was taken to a man’s house,” Jeong reported.
Paek Sun-Joo also fell victim. She was 18 and living on the streets when she was sold to a 38-year-old Chinese man.
“[The traffickers] would gather people wearing rags, appearing to be compassionate and pity them, giving them something to eat and telling them that in China they would be able to feed and clothe themselves adequately,” Paek told RFA.
“It is easy to be tricked when you are starving, and somebody gives you some food, telling you that there will be plenty more for you if you go with them,” she said.
The report said most women trafficked in China come from areas of North Korea close to the Chinese border, such as Chagang, Northern Hamgyong, and Yanggang provinces. Often they were already extremely poor and socially marginalized.
The victims report that North Korean women ages 17 to 40 are targeted, and the men who buy them are Chinese nationals between 37 and 58. Prices range from $260 to $2,600, depending on age and appearance, the victims reported.
The traffickers mostly are ethnic Korean Chinese who act as scouts, distributors, brokers or transporters of the “merchandise.” They identify victims and lure them into crossing into China, where the victims are matched with potential buyers, the report said.
A native of Northern Hamgyong province, Kang Sung-Mi was sold a year ago by ethnic Koreans in China. She is 35; her husband is 47. They work on the farm together, but he thinks of her as a worker, rather than a wife.
“My 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?'”
“My husband makes me work all by myself, the entire summer,” reported Hoh Kyung-Soon.
The report said bullying and physical violence are common, and unwanted sexual advances seldom are resisted because of fear of being deported back to North Korea, where returning defectors often are sent to labor camps.
“He hits me every day, for any trivial reason. It’s not that I want to live here, but I have nowhere else to go,” trafficking victim Hoh Kyung-Soon told RFA. “I’ve tried escaping twice. I was caught and beaten to a pulp.”
As WND has reported, North Korea also keeps tens of thousands of Christians in prison camps and many times tortures them to death. It has remained the No. 1 nation in the world for persecuting believers, according to a new report from Open Doors USA.
WND reported just a few weeks ago that there were reports that four Christians had been executed in North Korea because of their Christian faith. One incident involved a woman and her grandmother who were washing clothes when a New Testament fell out of the woman’s clothing. Both she and her grandmother were executed for that offense.
And the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom repeatedly has recommended the U.S. Department of State list North Korea as among its “countries of particular concern” for its “egregious and systematic human rights violations.”
“It is certainly not a surprise that North Korea remains No. 1. There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner,” said Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA.
WND also in 2006 featured a series of reports on Christian persecution in North Korea, including reports from those who have worked inside the restricted nation, reports from those who risk their lives by going into North Korea to minister, those who see the Christians’ testimony and are drawn to it, and those who have died in their Christian witness.
Media attention was focused on North Korea during 2006 because of its launch of missiles and purported nuclear weapons test, “which meant increased pressure for Christians,” the report said. “Open Doors uncovered information which indicates that more Christians were arrested in 2006 than in 2005. Between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are currently suffering in prison camps. Many of them are tortured. Others are still putting their lives at risk by trying to flee to China,” the report said.