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NK Defectors Describe Horrors of Human Trafficking

Posted May. 01, 2009 07:23,   


Two women who escaped from North Korea appeared at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington.

They were speaking at an event to mark the publication of “Lives for Sale,” a report on North Korea’s human rights and human trafficking written by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

The two women tearfully described the hardships they suffered before arriving in South Korea.

Bang Mi-sun, who came to the South in 2004, spoke first. She said she fled the North to feed her two children after her husband starved to death in 2002.

A former actress in a propaganda troupe at Moosan mine, Bang was sold to a human trafficking gang upon her arrival in China and forced to marry a Chinese man. She described a life of misery in China, saying she wishes North Korean women will no longer being sold and treated like animals.

“I thought that if I went to China, I could eat heartily and lead a better life than in North Korea. What waited for me was a wretched life,” she said.

“I was sold to a disabled Chinese man for 585 dollars at a human trafficking market and resold to another man.”

“I ended up in the hands of a man 14 years younger than me and had to marry him. He asked me to give birth to a baby.”

Bang was caught by Chinese police and repatriated to North Korea. There, she was subjected to severe corporal punishment and forced labor.

“I was put in a detention camp and flogged. I was battered so badly that I cannot walk well now,” she said.

Reporters were taken aback when she showed thigh wounds she received in the camp.

Choked with emotion, she said, “The United States and the international community should help North Koreans not to experience the same story as mine. Please help us bring a day when no North Korean woman undergoes this hardship.”

The second defector, Kim Young-ae, said, “What I went through in China was so horrible that I didn’t want to tell anybody about it. But I’ve decided to tell my story since my testimony can raise international awareness about the harsh reality facing North Koreans and prevent the same tragedy from happening again.”

Kim also said she fled the North to feed her young son after her husband died.

“Little did I know that the person who helped me flee North Korea was a member of a human trafficking gang,” she said. “I was sold to a mentally unstable Chinese man for 730 dollars and gave birth to a daughter.”

She said he physically abused her so she ran away. After being sold to several Chinese men, she finally found her way to South Korea on Dec. 24, 2007.

Kim said she is having difficulty bringing her child in China to South Korea.

The human rights committee said in its 64-page report, “The world has turned a blind eye to North Korea’s human right abuses for a long time.”

“Now is the time to pay attention to the miserable state of North Korean female defectors, who face forced marriages and confinement in China and torture and death in the worst-case scenarios when repatriated to North Korea.”