“In China, tens of thousands of North Korean women are hiding and living in fear of capture by the Chinese authorities,” said Lee So-yeon, a former soldier who fled her country in 2008 and is now a leading activist in South Korea.
Many of the women are sold to men in China with prices ranging from US$4,000 for women in their 20s to US$2,000 for those in their 40s.
“The greatest fear for women who are forced to leave is deportation to North Korea,” she said. Those who are caught by the Chinese authorities and sent back face the prospect of punishment meted out in prison camps, correctional training centers or labor training camps.
Life is especially harsh for women who have become pregnant by Chinese men, with some of them facing execution, she said.
Lim Hye-jin left her country in 1998 during the famine crisis. Once she crossed into China with a broker she was forcibly married to his brother, before becoming pregnant and was later rounded up by Chinese officials while working at a market. After repatriation she escaped back into China, but was brought back to the North once again. Eventually, she made a third escape and arrived in South Korea in 2002, but without her daughter.
Grace Jo who also fled North Korea adds, “We went to China to survive, but because of the Chinese government’s brutal treatment we lived in fear.”
[South China Morning Post]