Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For North Korean female refugees in China the "life of an animal"

The recent sentencing of U.S. journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, to 12 years of reform through hard labor in a North Korean labor camp for "grave crimes" against the country has been met with strong reaction from journalists, politicians, and activists alike. Lee and Ling were captured while filming a documentary for Current TV about North Korean exiles who flee to neighboring China.

While their unjust arrest and sentencing has been covered greatly, few have discussed the reason for their visit and subject of their documentary. The Washington Post today did just that with a revealing article about the women who escape North Korea, sometimes on their own but often by human traffickers, only to be met with a grim reality and few resources to help them.
"North Korea regards them as criminals for leaving. China refuses to recognize them as refugees, sending many back to face interrogation, hard labor and sometimes torture. Others stay on in stateless limbo, sold by brokers to Chinese men in need of fertile women and live-in labor. Forced marriage, abiding threats of deportation and a life without citizenship have become the norm for most female defectors now living in China."

In a recent report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea an estimated 300,000 North Koreans currently live in China illegally. Eight out of 10 defectors are working-class women who have fled due to poverty and hunger.

Bang Mi Sun is one woman who has experienced first hand the "life of an animal" as a North Korean refugee in China.
"If I had a chance to meet with President Obama, I would first like to tell him how North Korean women are being sold like livestock in China and, second, to know that North Korean labor camps are hell on earth."

Her story is below:

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