238. [INTERVIEW] Human traffickers prey on young North Korean women defectors
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  Name : koreatimes Date : 2018-12-20 오후 5:46:52
North Korea

A young North Korean woman who was forced to work as a "webcam girl" in an apartment in China escapes on Oct. 27, with the help of officials at the Durihana Mission, which has been assisting North Korean defectors since the 1990s. Courtesy of Durihana Mission

Korea Times 2018-12-20 16:54 By Jung Da-min

Many North Koreans who flee their country, especially young women, are trapped by brokers and sold to Chinese farms or forced to work in sex shops, according to a group that helps defectors.

Rev. Chun Ki-won, of the Durihana Mission in Seoul, said the situation has worsened because of tighter border controls between the two countries and China's internal crackdown.

Rev. Chun Ki-won of the Durihana Mission. Korea Times file

From the moment North Korean women defectors see the brokers pay the soldiers on the crossing, they are at the mercy of the brokers, as they have to pay the money back, says Chun, who has been helping North Korean defectors since the 1990s.

Whether they knew it or not, or whether they wanted it or not, they are victims of the human trafficking that has become a systemized method to defect from North Korea to China.

Most of the North Korean defectors are women and many are in their 20s or younger, he said.

The interview was held at his mission in southern Seoul on Dec.17.

Chun recently rescued two North Korean women who had been confined in an apartment in China and forced to work as cam girls for a porn site. The two, now 27 and 24, spent five and eight years, respectively, as online sex workers there.

When they left North Korea, they had not dreamt they would end up as sex workers.

The two were deceived by a Chinese man who told them he would free them if they work hard for a couple of years, but he did not keep his word.

Rev. Chun Ki-won with the two North Korean women he rescued from an apartment in China where they were forced to work as "webcam girls." Courtesy of Durihana Mission

Among those I helped, one was 13 years old when she gave birth in China, he said. She came to China with her mother when eight years old and they were sold to different places when she became 10 years old.

Whether they had babies from an unwanted relationship or even from a rape, they still want to embrace their babies. But North Korean mothers and their children born in third countries face another hardship in South Korea due to the lack of governmental support policies and cultural gaps, with the biggest hurdle being the language.

He says the children of North Korean women born in third countries had not been granted the same benefits as those born in North Korea, even though they are also seen as defectors in a broader sense. They also find more it more difficult to learn Korean as they were born and raised outside the Koreas.

As the number of these children enrolled in South Korean schools outnumbers young North Korean defectors, the government is expanding support for them, such as making it easy to get academic accreditation for their schooling outside the country