North Korean Girls Sold As Chattel

Increasing number of young North Korean girls and women are being sold into marriage and smuggled into China by families made desperate by years of famine.

A South Korean aid worker explained that widespread famine has robbed North Koreans of their resources, and cultural misogyny has led them to view women and girls as inferior to men, and therefore more expendable. “They need other things to trade, so they are trading their girls.”

Many of the girls are sold as wives for Chinese farmers and laborers. Hundreds of Chinese rural farmers lack wives due to the dramatically-skewed makeup of the Chinese population, which includes approximately 120 men for every 100 women caused by widespread female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, and neglect of female offspring. Separated from their friends and families, these brides are at great risk for physical and emotional abuse.

Others of the girls are sold into sexual slavery as prostitutes in brothels and karaoke halls. A man who smuggles girls and other “products” over the border told the Washington Post that the average price for a “pretty North Korean Miss” is between $800 and $1,150 dollars. He said of the North Koreans “They don’t have anything else…Now we are taking their pretty girls.”

The fine of $1,000 for smuggling girls and women imposed by Chinese authorities has had little effect, since smugglers can easily recover from an occasional fine.


Washington Post and Feminist Majority Foundation - February 12, 1999

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