Thousands Of North Korean Women Sold Into Sex Slavery
Tens of thousands of women are being trafficked into sexual slavery for pornography, according to a new report from the Korea Future Initiative.
The Korea Future Initiative report was created after interviewing over 45 survivors of the Chinese sex trade.
Up to 300,000 North Koreans have defected from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since the establishment of the dictatorship. Around 200,000 remain in China.
Most of these defectors are women and they exist in a precarious situation -- unrecognised by the country they reside in, and threatened by torture in their home state.
While South Korea provides automatic citizenship to North Korean defectors after they have disavowed any support for the state, China does not provide the same welcome.
China has a rigorous policy of forcing defectors on their soil into repatriation, believing these citizens to be illegal migrants not entitled to asylum, despite UN recommendations that they be protected under international refugee and human rights law.
North Korea tortures, imprisons, and occasionally executes attempted defectors.
Despite this threat, many people choose to make this perilous journey due to extreme food shortages or to escape torture, prison camps, or public execution.
The consistencies between the women's accounts provided to the Korea Future Initiative revealed a complex and vast illicit industry that sells these vulnerable people as wives and sex workers in China.
The report claims 60 percent of North Korean women in China are trafficked into the sex trade.
Of these women, 50 percent are forced into sex work, 30 percent are sold into forced marriages, and 15 percent are forced into the cybersex industry, producing pornography for online audiences.
The exploitation of North Korean women on Chinese soil is believed to be worth $US 105 million annually.
Chinese authorities also appear to have a hand in this trade, with an estimated seven percent of sales made by police.
The Korea Future Initiative state that the prospects for women caught in this trade are bleak -- with forced sex work, rape, and enslavement common practice.
Many of the victims have died in China and rescue operations are limited due to apprehension on the part of foreign governments to intervene in China.
The Korea Future Initiative is one of a handful independent organisations that rescue North Koreans who are at risk outside their borders.
The account of Park Jihyun, a North Korean woman who defected from the state only to be sold into sex slavery in China, was included in the report.
Jihyun gave birth to a son whilst she was being held captive but was eventually arrested by police and repatriated back into North Korea, where she was tortured, "forced to endure acts that will haunt me for the rest of my life."
Jihyun now lives in Manchester and stated in her letter that "the story of North Korea is also the story of female subjugation -- of structural, sexual, and physical violence."
"North Korean women and girls are grist for the mill. We are expendable," she said.
The Korea Future Initiative believe China has violated legally-binding conventions related to human rights law and should have sanctions imposed by the UN's International Court of Justice as a result.
The organisation also states that rescue organisations must be afforded greater resources to protect the women and girls caught in this trade.