North Korean women trafficked into China get help from Christian ministry

A Christian ministry is reaching out to North Korean women trafficked into northeast China to offer them help, Bible studies and pastoral services.

(REUTERS / Choi Bu-Seok)Women who have escaped from North Korea walk to their class at the Hanawon centre, the state-run official temporary base for defectors from North Korea, in Anseong, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Seoul, July 8, 2009.

Each year, Open Doors reaches out to 150 to 200 trafficked women from North Korea who are sold and face abuse and ill treatment across the border. The Christian group aims to build these women up and train them to be future ministry leaders in China and North Korea, Christian Today details.

Hwa-Young, one of those ministering to the trafficking victims, said these women grew up in extreme poverty and constant hunger. They were also forced to watch while their friends or neighbors were publicly executed.

"Even when they are older and leave the country, they still experience that psychological pressure of fear. There is much more freedom here in China, but the women are still not safe," said Hwa-Young, according to Christian Today. "Additionally, most of them have been abused, both in North Korea and in China. They feel numb. They don't even feel the hurt anymore."

In September last year, Radio Free Asia published an article about North Korean defector See-Yeon Kim who was repatriated but escaped once again to live in South Korea. She said the human trafficking problem in her home country started in 1995 during the height of food shortages and famine.

Women who defected to China are reportedly able to settle down if they come across good people who help them. Unfortunately, there are smugglers who take advantage of the dire condition of the North Korean families and sell women for money, with some defectors sold without their knowledge.

There are cases in which unmarried and old Chinese women would buy North Korean women to bear their children. Since these women have nowhere to turn to and could not speak Chinese, they are forced to stay with these men.

Many of the defectors or the trafficked women are listed as "missing" or "dead" in North Korea. However, their families often keep up the hope that they are still alive across the border.

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