Human Traffic Watch

Posts Tagged ‘north korea’

Escape from North Korea: A Modern Refugee Crisis

In Awareness, Forced Labor, Forced marriage, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on March 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm

The increasing availability of outside media information is also attributed as another major factor in inducing North Koreans to flee North Korea. Mee-Ri Kim, an employee at the South Korean NGO, Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, states: “More and more North Koreans are exposed to outside information sources [such as South Korean television] that show them there is a better world out there.”

Meanwhile, an interesting trend in the statistics is that women comprise over 65% of the number of North Korean defectors to South Korea.

Kim suspects that because of the wider array of economic opportunities available to women in China, more North Korean women flee North Korea than men. Such opportunities include waitress positions and babysitter jobs.

A Newsweek article from August 2012 however offers a darker explanation. Chinese or Korean-Chinese bride-brokers, or matchmakers, attempt to secure North Korean brides for Chinese men, often through trickery.

According to Newsweek, the Chinese one-baby policy combined with traditional Chinese favoritism for sons has now created “an epic surge in bachelors” in rural China, and hence an exploding demand for brides.

These brokers usually shower North Korean women with promises of lucrative jobs and a better education.

Source: The International

Human Trafficking of North Korean Women

In Awareness, Forced marriage, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on February 19, 2013 at 9:52 am


In Human Trafficking on February 17, 2013 at 8:53 am


Most refugees arriving in China, of which Kirkpatrick said “75 percent are women”, usually end up in the hands of “brokers”. Brokers are a “necessary evil”, claims Kim, who’s missionary on the Chinese border often deals with brokers to pay for refugees. Once in Kim’s care, the refugees

are provided information on how to utilize the “Underground Railroad” to successfully navigate to South Korea.

The “Underground Railroad” is similar to the one used in America during the mid-19th century to assist slaves with a safe passage to the North, says Kirkpatrick. Kim utilized this service when he was 13 years old and an orphan in North Korea. The route varies and refugees can pass through any combination of China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Countries such as Laos and Cambodia are more accommodating and will contact the South Korean Consulate and inform them of the refugees. In China however, refugees are mostly detained and sent back to North Korea. Although most refugees desire to end up in South Korea, Kim says he attempts to persuade them to return to North Korea and become “freedom fighters”.

One large ‘market’ for North Korean women is to become a wife for Chinese men. Some women who see no hope in North Korea decide that a life with a Chinese man is better than their current existence. And the market demand for North Korean women is high, due to China’s one child policy. In some areas, “men outnumber women by a ratio of 14:1,” states Kirkpatrick. Others are sold directly into prostitution. Trafficking grew mostly during the late 1990’s, due to North Koreans need for food. “The Chinese people saw a chance to make money,” says Kim, and took advantage of this. Kim explained that brokers would also go to North Korea, seek out women and then say, “come to China for a better life.”

Source: NK News

The Underground Railroad from North Korea to Freedom

In Human Trafficking on October 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Kim Han-mi watches her mother being dragged by Chinese policemen when her family attempted to enter into the Japanese Consulate in order to seek asylum in Shenyang. (Kyodo/courtesy Reuters)

Chinese government policies receive the lion’s share of Kirkpatrick’s criticism precisely because those policies are what make the North Korean refugee path to freedom on Asia’s underground railroad so dangerous. Kirkpatrick strongly criticizes China’s failure to recognize North Koreans as political refugees as well as China’s complicity in enabling human trafficking of North Korean women, denial of citizenship rights to Chinese-North Korean mixed race children of trafficked unions with Chinese citizens, and Chinese government efforts to round up and return North Koreans to detention, often under life-threatening circumstances for fleeing the DPRK. China’s policies even punish Kirkpatrick’s heroes who have sacrificed their own resources and freedom to lead North Koreans on the underground railroad to freedom.

Despite the efforts of courageous facilitators who comprise Asia’s underground railroad, the road to freedom Kirkpatrick describes remains unnecessarily fraught with risk and tragedy for those who are caught, sold, or repatriated to severe punishments in North Korea. Over 20,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea in the past decade (2,737 arrived in South Korea in 2011 and 135 have relocated to the United States since 2006), but there is no way of knowing how many North Koreans fled the North but failed to find freedom. Even more serious for the future of the underground railroad is that the number of North Korean refugees during the first six months in 2012 under Kim Jong-un compared to the figure for the same period in 2011 dropped over forty-percent to 751. This conspicuous difference is likely the result of strengthened North Korean border control efforts.

Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Human Rights of North Korean Defectors in Dire Straits

In Awareness, Human Trafficking on September 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Dadong, North Korea. Image by Joseph A Ferris III/Flickr.

On August 3rd, South Korean human rights activist Kim Young-hwan and three colleagues held a press conference accusing Chinese authorities of detainment and torture due to their work with North Korean refugees. China has denied the allegations.

The activists were staying in Dalien, a major city in the southern Chinese province of Liaoning, assisting North Korean defectors and raising awareness of the dire human rights situation in North Korea (the original cause for their arrest). Mr. Kim said that he and his colleagues were beaten and tortured with electricity for “threatening the national security of China,” that both the Chinese and the North Korean governments were clandestinely engaged in their arrest and torture, and that the Chinese government intentionally delayed a consulate meeting.

Torture and harsh treatment for human rights activists such as Kim Young-hwan – who is a former supporter of North Korea’s first leader Kim Il-sung, but later became disillusioned with the regime’s absolutism and human rights abuses – highlight the tensions between South Korea and China as well as the ill treatment of North Korean defectors by the Chinese government.

Key Conclusions

North Korean refugees are facing a dire situation in many neighboring countries in Asia. Some countries are reluctant to grant refugee status for economic reasons and China adamantly enforces a bilateral agreement with North Korea to deny so-called “defectors” refugee status in China.

Absent such status, North Korean defectors are considered illegal immigrants and are frequently sent back to North Korea, where they face serious punishment. Keen to avoid repatriation, North Korean refugees desperately look for alternatives. The risks are particularly severe for women who regularly become victims of forced marriage, forced labor, and prostitution.

Neighboring countries, in particular China, should therefore urgently meet their obligations under international treaties and grant refugee status to defectors from North Korea to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Source: ISN Blog

North Korea: Human Traffickers and the Chinese Market for Brides

In Awareness, Forced marriage, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on August 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm

But why import brides from North Korea? The answer is China’s family-planning laws. Ever since the one-child policy went into effect in 1979, Beijing has enforced it through fines, imprisonment, forced abortion, sterilization, and even, human-rights groups charge, infanticide. The policy has had its intended effect of slowing the rate of expansion of China’s population. But there has been an unwelcome side effect: an unnaturally high male-to-female ratio.

Women may hold up half the sky, in Mao Zedong’s famous phrase, but they are treated as second-class citizens in much of modern China. Many couples still favor sons, both to carry on the family name and support them in their old age. In rural areas the birth of a son heralds the arrival of an extra farmhand as soon as the boy is old enough to hold a hoe. Not so long ago in China, an unwanted baby girl might be drowned in a bucket at birth or left unattended to die. These days abortion is the preferred method, and ultrasound tests let couples find out the baby’s sex early in the pregnancy for about $12, well within the means of most couples. There are laws against using ultrasound this way, but they’re widely ignored. “Sex-selection abortion accounts for almost all the excess males,” says the British medical journal BMJ.

Source: The Daily Beast

U.S. Names N. Korea One of Worst Countries of Human Trafficking

In Awareness, Forced Labor, Forced marriage, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on June 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

For the 10th consecutive year, North Korea was among the bottom tier in the U.S. government’s human trafficking report.

The State Department’s annual publication placed the communist regime alongside 16 other countries including Iran, Libya and Syria in the Tier Three group.
It said that these governments made no effort to address human trafficking through prosecution, protection or preventive measures.

The North Korean regime’s political prison camps were first mentioned, where up to 200-thousand people, including children, are reportedly forced into labor under harsh living conditions.

Pyeongyang’s extortion of salaries of North Korean workers sent abroad to countries like Russia and Mongolia, followed by constant surveillance and threats to force their continued labor were cited as the North’s other forms of human trafficking.

Concerns were also raised over North Korean women and girls forced into marriage, prostitution or labor, after they migrate to neighboring China in search of food, work and freedom.

And if found by Chinese authorities, the victims are often deported to North Korea, where they face severe punishment, including being put into labor camps.

Source: Arirang News

S. Korean embassy staff add to NK defectors’ blues

In Forced marriage, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on June 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

It is well-known that female North Korean defectors, even after successfully crossing the border, often fall victim to sex trafficking in China and live in fear of enforced repatriation back to their homeland where appalling conditions that violate human rights await.

Recently, a fresh allegation was made regarding ordeals some defectors are forced to endure in foreign countries before they head to South Korea.

Bad treatment from staff in South Korean embassies overseas surfaced as another trial they have to overcome, according to a human rights worker helping North Koreans.

“(South Korean) embassy officials’ bad treatment of North Korean defectors such as using abusive language against them, refusing them entry into embassies and hanging up on them during phone calls were reported as recently as 2008 across Southeast Asia and China,” said Peter Jung, founder and director of the Justice for North Korea, a Seoul-based activist group, Friday. “I am really shocked that those incidents still take place in overseas missions.”

The activist said he witnessed several cases while he was helping defectors in Southeast Asia. According to Jung, from 2006 to 2007, embassy officials in Laos stopped defectors entering the South Korean embassy, ordering security guards to block the entrance. On some occasions, officials hung up the phone knowing that it was a call from a North Korean defector searching for help.

“I guess the embassy officials did not regard the defectors as Korean people,” Jung said.

Source: Korea Times

U.S. Adds Syria to List of Nations Failing to Combat Human Trafficking

In Human Trafficking on June 21, 2012 at 8:43 am

While some governments are making significant strides to end modern-day slavery, the State Department on Tuesday singled out 17 others that it said were “treating victims as criminals or ignoring them entirely.”

In its 2012 report on human trafficking, the department addedSyria to the list of nations that could face American sanctions for not doing enough to combat forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The report said the violence in Syria had weakened security and made it difficult to monitor anti-trafficking efforts.

The other countries that the report said were falling well short of standards and not making substantial efforts to improve conditions were Algeria, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Source: New York Times

N. Korea’s human rights condition ‘extremely poor,’ U.S. gov’t

In Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on May 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

North Korea’s human rights conditions remain “extremely poor,” the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

In an annual report on political freedom and civil liberties in 199 nations, the department again grouped North Korea with Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Belarus and China.

“Overall human rights conditions remained extremely poor in many of the countries that we spotlighted in our 2010 country reports,” said Michael H. Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

“Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The government subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives, including denial of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement and worker rights,” it added. “There continued to be reports of a vast network of political prison camps in which conditions were often harsh and life threatening.”

In the previous report, the department described the North’s human rights record “deplorable” and “grim.”

Source: Yonhap News

%d bloggers like this: