North Korean defector trafficked and raped hopes her story raises awareness

A young North Korean defector who was trafficked and raped at the age of 13 after fleeing to China said on Friday that she hoped going public with her life story would shine a light on “the darkest place on earth”, her homeland.

In her memoir, Park tells how at age 13 she was sold, kidnapped and resold, ending up with a trafficker who made her an offer. If she became his mistress he would buy her mother who had been sold to a farmer but if she refused he would hand her to the police who would deport her to North Korea where defectors are sent to labor camps or even executed.

“For a long time I thought of it as a business transaction, not rape,” she writes. “Only now can I accept what happened in all its terrible dimensions.”

Park describes a hierarchy of gangsters who specialize in the trafficking of North Korean brides in China, which has a shortage of women as a result of its one child policy. Park said sometimes women asked to be sold into prostitution so they could make money to send home. She was told about brothels in Shanghai and Beijing where North Korean girls were injected with drugs so they couldn’t run away.

In her memoir, Park urges China to end its policy of repatriating North Koreans as it fuels trafficking and slavery. “I wish it had all never happened, and I never had to talk about it again. But I want everyone to know the shocking truth about human trafficking,” writes Park. “If the Chinese government would end its heartless policy of sending refugees back to North Korea, then the brokers would lose all their power to exploit and enslave these women.”

[Reuters]

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