November 09, 2016 12:37
Recent statistics highlight the endemic abuse and trafficking of North Korean women who flee to China.
Figures show that the children of North Korean women and Chinese fathers now outnumber young North Korean defectors.
The Education Ministry on Sunday said 1,249 children of North Korean defectors who were born in China went to school in South Korea as of the end of last year, outnumbering the 1,226 students who were born in North Korea. And as of September, 52.1 percent of children of North Korean defectors who go to school here were born in China.
A spokesman for a human rights group said, "The fact that there are more children of North Korean women with Chinese rather than North Korean fathers is proof of the human rights abuses the women suffer when they escape to China." This often includes a kind of indentured marriage that is little better than sex slavery, with Chinese men "buying" the women from border traffickers.
"I escaped to China trusting a broker, but ended up being sold for money and had to endure all kinds of abuse as I was dragged from one location to another," one defector recalls. "Some women who are sold into sexual slavery are stripped naked and locked up so that they cannot escape."
The children these women have with Chinese men are frequently unable to get legal protection or go to school in China because their mothers are considered illegal immigrants or their fathers refuse to register them as their own.
Some of the women manage to escape to South Korea with their Chinese children or go ahead first and bring their children afterwards.
According to one broker, there was a huge upsurge in women fleeing the North after a botched currency reform in late 2009 who now seem to be finding their way to South Korea. Some 70 to 80 percent of recent defectors are women, and they have an estimated 20,000-30,000 children who were born in China, according to one source.
But the children are not entitled to the same educational and financial support here as defectors. A woman surnamed Chung who arrived in South Korea in 2010, said, "I arrived in South Korea with two children I had in China, and they don't get any assistance, which makes life difficult for us. A major problem is that they can't speak much Korean."
Savvy women lie to investigators here, saying their children were born in the North but only grew up in China, which explains why they do not speak the language. A government source said, "There's no way to check their place of birth, so we often take their word for it."
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