Human Trafficking by Inja Jeong, Northeast Asia Regional Coordinator
Most women who escape from North Korea into China are willing to risk their lives because they hear there is big money to be made across the northern border. Mija* fled from North Korea hoping that if she worked hard for a year, she would be able to make decent money to feed her starving family and maybe even get a chance to go to South Korea.
Her dream was shattered upon arriving in China, however, where she experienced the devastating reality of being sold as a sex slave along with other defectors. She said she was sold to a much older Chinese man for about 20,000 yuan (roughly US$2,800).
Fifteen-year-old girls and married mothers are among the women who escape from North Korea only to be sold by human traffickers. Younger people fetch higher prices, but at the end of the day, those who are sold get nothing. Truly, this is modern-day slavery.
Eunsoo* was sold to a farming village in China in her early 20s. She endured over 10 years of being treated as a sex slave before finally reaching South Korea in 2008.
“My so-called husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law took turns demanding to have sex with me,” Eunsoo said. “I was not a member of their family but just their sex slave.”
Even though Mija and Eunsoo left their slavery nightmares behind several years ago, their hearts are still marked with deep, unfaded scars. The issues facing defectors from North Korea are becoming increasingly complicated as time passes.
Women like Mija and Eunsoo who are living in China today are painfully conflicted: Should they stay in China, where they can maintain some contact with their families in North Korea while helping them financially? Or should they strive to relocate in South Korea to create a permanent home within their own, freer culture but risk losing all contact with their children and families?
For 18 years in a row, the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report has designated North Korea as a Tier 3 country along with China, Iran and Russia. Tier 3 countries are described as not having made significant efforts to comply with the report’s minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
God created mankind in his own image. He created them as distinct individuals, with special plans for each and every single one of them. Abhorrent sins like sex slavery and human trafficking that ruin these precious lives will incur God’s fury.
In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
TWR Women of Hope creates and distributes an audio drama called Hidden Treasures to help women who are being hurt by sexual violence. Please pray for these women in pain to be able to find the courage to break free from their bondage.
No one should own another human being. No one should have the right to buy and sell someone else. Let us pray that the pain inflicted by human trafficking will come to an end. Every single person living in this world is precious. Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love and mercy of God, and his love never changes.
* A pseudonym is used for security reasons.