by Amanda Kloer
The global recession has affected China like every other country in the world. But despite a dip in the Chinese economy, at least one imported product remains affordable there: North Korean women. In China, a woman can be imported from North Korea for about $1500, less than the price of a decent used car. And the business of trafficking women from North Korea to China is booming.
Korea estimates that anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people from North Korea are currently living in China. Of those, about 80% are women. And of the women, almost 90% have been trafficked at some point or are currently victims of trafficking. For the most part, these women are trafficked into marriages. The one child policy in China has created a generation where men greatly outnumber women and Chinese wives are hard to come by. So Chinese men who want to get married are forced to look elsewhere. Some try to meet foreign women through legitimate means. But others just buy a wife from North Korea and have her shipped over, like an imported wine. Or rather, a piece of imported meat.
Sex trafficking is also going strong, serving the Chinese men who are looking to get laid rather than married. Sometimes, women are offered jobs in the Chinese tech industry. Those jobs turn out to be stripping for Internet webcasts and/or forced prostitution. North Korean women who are forced into prostitution face even more risks than those forced into marriages, because if caught, they face additional punishments back home.
Both the forced marriages and the sex trafficking are leading to a generation of Chinese-Korean children without a clear home. The children of trafficked women and their husbands or johns often end up not just homeless, but stateless as well. Usually, this happens when the Korean mother is caught in China without proper documentation and deported to North Korea, often to prison or a labor camp where she can’t bring the child. If the Chinese father doesn’t take responsibility for the child, then the kid ends up an orphan which no parent or country able and willing to take care of him or her.
The cross-border trafficking of women from North Korea to China has become an epidemic in the truest sense to the word. It’s spreading farther into both countries than the border region and infecting thousands of women. It’s even affecting a new generation of children, living without a family or a country to call home.
Photo credit: benjamin_mercadier