Advertisement

North Korean women defectors risk abduction, sexual assault in China and North Korea

Women survivors of North Korea's Great Famine face more hurdles than North Korean men, with human trafficking, sexual assault and forced abortions cited as leading forms of abuse.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean women defectors risk abduction, sexual assault in China and North Korea
North Korean women inside the North Korean embassy in Beijing. North Korean women are at high risk of sexual assault in North Korea and human trafficking in China, a group of defectors said in Seoul Tuesday. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

SEOUL, March 3 (UPI) -- One woman said she was the victim of human trafficking in China. Another confessed she picked her way through dog feces to find undigested kernels of corn for food. Yet a third woman said she watched helplessly as her army colleagues were forced to grant sexual favors to more powerful men in North Korea's ruling elite.

These were just some of the haunting tales North Korean women defectors told an audience of fellow defectors and members of the South Korean press corps on Tuesday, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.

Advertisement

Song Kyong-ok, 28, said her troubles began during the height of North Korea's Great Famine. Song said she was forced into the streets to beg for food, finding it in the unlikeliest of places -- such as unpicked fecal matter containing edible kernels of corn.

In a separate, televised interview with South Korea's TV Chosun on Tuesday, Song said her family's close proximity to the Chinese border allowed her mother to take short trips out of North Korea to procure food. During her time in China, Song said, her mother may have encountered Christian missionaries.

Advertisement

Song said she was only 10 when her mother was taken away for praying, an act of treason.

Song left North Korea in 2004 when she was 18 and eventually found asylum in South Korea in 2008.

Kim Eun-mi, 33, said she was tricked into abduction and was sold by a broker to a Chinese man who forced her into a marriage.

RELATED North Korean envoy: Regime can launch preemptive strikes

In a televised interview on Tuesday, tears streamed down Kim's face as she recounted tales of being beaten and left for dead in northeast China when she tried to escape.

Ahn Hye-kyung, 39, served in a nursing unit of the North Korean military unit 567. She said a friend in the same unit endured a forced abortion after performing a sexual favor for a senior North Korean official. On television Ahn said her friend disappeared after the abortion and does not know of her whereabouts.

"In North Korea women don't receive sex education. Nor are they taught basic concepts of women's rights," Ahn said.

RELATED Canadian citizen reported missing in North Korea

Ahn said women are commonly shamed for unwanted pregnancies and for being victims of sexual assault.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement