Saturday, June 13, 2009

Plight of North Korean Women

From the Seattle Times:Justify Full
For North Korean women who run off to China, rules are rigged on both sides of the border.

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.

The home-and-abroad abuse of North Korean women who seek sanctuary in China was a story U.S. TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were sentenced Monday to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp, were working on when they were detained in the border area. The circumstances of their arrest remain unclear, though a North Korean court convicted them of entering the country illegally.

Mass flight from North Korea dates to the mid-1990s, when hundreds of thousands of North Koreans fled a famine that killed perhaps a million people. But a recent human-rights report, based on interviews in China with 77 female defectors, details how their insecurity and statelessness can continue inside China as the price of escaping the North.

Forced marriage, abiding threats of deportation and a life without citizenship have become the norm for most female defectors living in China, according to "Lives for Sale," based on the research of Lee Hae-young, a Seoul-based human-rights researcher. Her work was paid for and published by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a nonprofit group based in Washington.

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