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North Korean women forced into sex slavery in China, report claims



Thousands of North Korean women and girls are sold and trafficked into sexual slavery in China, generating millions of dollars for local crime syndicates, according to a new report by London-based rights group Korea Future Initiative published Monday.

The report compiled its data from research and interviews with victims of sexual violence in China and survivors in South Korea over a two-year period.

According the report, most of the victims who were coerced, sold, or trafficked were women and girls aged between 12 and 29. Many of them are forced into the multi-million dollar sexual slavery trade — whether through prostitution, forced marriage, or cyber sex trafficking — within their first year outside of North Korea.

The abuse and exploitation is so prevalent because North Korean defectors face repatriation back to their homeland by the Chinese government, the report says. Those who are sent back to North Korea often face torture, interrogation and sometimes execution, it added.

The report’s author Yoon Hee-soon said that an estimated 60% of female North Korean refugees in China were involved in the sex trade, with nearly half forced into prostitution.

“Victims are prostituted for as little as 30 Chinese yuan ($4), sold as wives for just 1,000 yuan ($146), and trafficked into cyber-sex dens for exploitation by a global online audience,” Yoon said.

Girls as young as nine-years-old have been forced to perform sex acts on camera which are live-streamed to a global audience, the report added.

Many North Korean women are trafficked across the country’s land border with China.
Emily Wang/AP

“Three men abducted me [close to the border],” Jeon, a woman from Sinuiju, a city on the North Korea-China border, was quoted as saying in the report.

“It was nearly dark and they put me in their car and drove me into the mountains (…) The oldest man raped me first. I became unconscious when the other [two men] raped me. When I woke up I was bleeding and they had tied me to a tree (…) The next day one of the men came back (…) [He] sold me to a broker.”

Read more: Take a tour of the closest Chinese city to North Korea, the nearest thing to the outside world most North Koreans will ever see

Research into North Korea’s slave trade has become more prevalent in recent years. Rights group the Walk Free Foundation said in their 2018 Global Slavery Index published last year that modern-day slavery is most prevalent in North Korea and other repressive regimes.

According to the Walk Free Foundation, one in every 10 people living in North Korea is forced into some form of slavery — including being forced to work in unpaid “communal labor” or being detained in labor “training camps.” Forced labor is used to prop up the repressive regime and keep the country’s population under tight control, the foundation said.

The Global Slavery Index added that more than 2.6 million out of North Korea’s 25 million inhabitants are subjected to modern slavery, the highest proportion of a single country’s population worldwide.

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