Tens of thousands of North Korean women 'sold into China sex trade and systemically raped'

'North Korean women and girls are passed through the hands of traffickers, brokers, and criminal organisations. Before being pulled into China’s sex trade, where they are exploited and used by men until their bodies are depleted,' says report

Maya Oppenheim Women's Correspondent  @mayaoppenheim

Tens of thousands of North Korean women and girls are trafficked and sold into the sex trade in China where they are forced to endure systemic rape, sexual slavery and cybersex trafficking, according to a new report. 


충격! 수만명의 북한 여성들, 중국 성매매에 팔려나가 조직적 강간 당해

   '북한 여성과 소녀들은 인신매매범, 브로커, 범죄조직의 손을 통해 전달된다. 

중국의 성매매에 끌려 들어가기 전에, 그들은 그들의 몸이 고갈될 때까지 남자들에 의해 이용된다.'고 보고서는 말한다.

수만명의 북한 여성과 소녀들이  중국 곳곳에서 조직적인 강간, 성노예와 사이버성매매로 견딜 수 없는 싱태로 팔려 나가고 있다.

새 보고서에 따르면

한국미래창조과학부가 실시한 이번 조사에서 중국 본토에서 인신매매된 북한 여성과 소녀들에게 자행된 끔찍한 성적 학대의 새롭고 불안한 양상을 밝혀냈다. 또한 여성들이 성매매, 성폭력, 매춘, 강제 결혼의 대상이 되고 있다는 사실이 밝혀졌다.

보고서는 "폭정, 빈곤, 억압의 강요로 살아남은 가부장제에 의해 고국에서 밀려나면서 북한 여성과 소녀들은 인신매매범, 브로커, 범죄조직의 손을 거친다"고 밝혔다. "중국의 성매매에 끌려 들어가기 전에, 남성들에게 이용당해서 몸이 고갈될 때까지"

이 연구소는 "북한 여성 시신 판매"로 인해 매년 1억 5천 5백만 달러의 수익을 올리는 "복잡하고 상호 연결된 범죄 네트워크"를 찾아냈다.

이 보고서를 쓴 사람은 윤희순 한국 미래구상 회의 연구원으로"북한 여성과 여자들의 착취는 적어도 1억 500만달러의 연간 이익을 창출해 냈다고 말했다.

중국의 암흑가의 성매매 희생자들은 중국 위안¥30(4달러)에 몸을 팔고, 강제 결혼의 경우 ¥1000 중국 위안(146달러)에 거래되고 되고 있는 실정이라고 말하고 있다.

그녀는:"일반적으로 12-29세의 여성들이 대부분으로 이들은 중국에 납치된 혹은 직접 북한에서 인신 매매가 강요된다. 대다수가 한번 이상 팔려 나간 적이 있다고 덧붙였다.

성 노예로서 그들은 자신의 집을 떠나야 하는 적어도 1년짜리의 형태로 성매매를 강요 당했다.

윤희순씨는 매춘이 북한 여성과 소녀들의 성매매를 위한 "일차적 경로"로서 강제 결혼을 앞지른 것이라고 말했다.

그녀는 또 "중국 동북부 대도시와 가까운 위성도시와 읍내를 배회하는 사창가에서 희생자들은 대부분 15세에서 25세 사이이며 상습적으로 은밀한 부위에 강간을 당하며 자위행위를 강요받고 있다"고 덧붙였다.

황기철 콘페이퍼 에디터 큐레이터

Ki Cheol Hwang, conpaper editor, curator

edited by kcontents

The investigation, by the Korea Future Initiative, has uncovered new and disturbing patterns of horrific sexual abuse perpetrated against trafficked North Korean women and girls in mainland China. It found women are also being subject to sex trafficking, sexual abuse, prostitution and forced marriage there.

“Pushed from their homeland by a patriarchal regime that survives through the imposition of tyranny, poverty, and oppression, North Korean women and girls are passed through the hands of traffickers, brokers, and criminal organisations,” the report says. “Before being pulled into China’s sex trade, where they are exploited and used by men until their bodies are depleted.”

The piece of research found a “complex and interconnected network of criminality” accrues an estimated $105 million annually from “the sale of female North Korean bodies”.

Yoon Hee-soon, the report’s author and a researcher at Korea Future Initiative, said: “The exploitation of North Korean women and girls generates annual profits of at least $105 million for the Chinese underworld. Victims are prostituted for as little as ¥30 Chinese Yuan ($4), sold as wives for just ¥1000 Chinese Yuan ($146), and trafficked into cybersex dens for exploitation by a global online audience.” 

She added: “Commonly aged between 12-29 and overwhelmingly female, victims are coerced, sold, or abducted in China or trafficked directly from North Korea. Many are sold more than once and are forced into at least one form of sexual slavery within a year of leaving their homeland.” 

Ms Hee-soon said that prostitution had overtaken forced marriage as the “primary pathway” into the sex trade for North Korean women and girls.


“Enslaved in brothels that litter satellite-towns and townships close to large urban areas in northeast China, victims are mostly aged between 15-25 and are habitually subjected to penetrative vaginal and anal rape, forced masturbation, and groping,” she added.

Cybersex trafficking is a “small, rudimentary, but expanding component” in the trade for female North Koreans, she said. Girls aged as young as nine are forced to perform graphic sex acts and are sexually assaulted in front of webcams, she added, which are live-streamed to a paying global audience.

The researcher noted that forced marriages continue to be an enduring component of the Chinese sex trade and the issue is persistent in rural areas and townships - with North Korean women continuing to be “bought, raped, exploited, and enslaved” by Chinese husbands.

“Prospects for North Korean women and girls trapped in China’s multi-million-dollar sex trade are bleak,” she said.

“Many victims have perished in China, while small rescue organisations and Christian missionaries struggle to perform rescue work. Urgent and immediate action, which will run contrary to the prevailing politics of inter-Korean dialogue, is needed to save the lives of countless female North Korean refugees in China.” 

The report argues that the fact the Korea Future Initiative - a small non-governmental organisation which gets no funding or support from governments, human rights institutions, or grant-giving bodies - was able to uncover abuses chiefly ignored by the international community should serve as an incentive to others.

The Korea Future Initiative is a London-based not-for-profit that helps North Koreans in danger and publishes reports on human rights abuses to support redress for exiles. The report's findings are the result of long-term engagement with victims living in China and exiled survivors in South Korea and mark the first time the majority of interviewees felt able to talk about their experiences of sexual violence and sex trafficking.

A damning report by Human Rights Watch from November last year found North Korean officials sexually assault women with near total impunity and sexual abuse is so prevalent it has been normalised. 

The report said women in the country are routinely forced to endure sexual violence by government officials, police, prison guards, interrogators and soldiers. The profoundly patriarchal society means many women are ashamed of the abuse they experience and feel unable to demand accountability – deciding not to speak out because of feeble law enforcement and support services.

Reports like these about the so-called “hermit kingdom” – the most secretive and isolated regime in the world – are rare.

The black markets that have become a crucial source of income for many families are an area where sexual violence is prevalent.

“They consider us [sex] toys. We are at the mercy of men,” Oh Jung-hee, a former trader in her 40s, told researchers. “It happens so often nobody thinks it is a big deal. We don’t even realise when we are upset. But we are human, and we feel it. So sometimes, out of nowhere, you cry at night and don’t know why.”


Sexual violence in North Korea 'just part of normal life'   

Sexual violence part of 'ordinary life' in North Koreakcontents

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