The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death. Yeonmi Park was 13 years old a broker offered her and her mother a chance to escape starvation in North Korea to China. However, when they arrived Park tells of how the first thing she saw was her mother raped. Both Park and her mother were sold to Chinese men as brides. Park was able to escape China to South Korea by crossing the Gobi desert. She is now studying at Columbia University in New York and runs a non-profit organisation to save other girls trafficked to China.
The internal migration of Chinese people seeking work has created an opportunity for human traffickers in China. Moreover the gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Women and girls are kidnapped or recruited through marriage brokers and transported to China from Africa, Asia and North Korea where some are subjected to commercial sex or forced labor. Cho Cho, who was 18 and married, was selling the betel nut chew so popular with Burmese men when a man from her neighborhood approached her with the promise of a job in Mandalay. However, instead of a job, Cho Cho found herself on a truck bound for China and upon arrival, was sold to a Chinese man to be married. After refusing to marry the man that bought her, Cho Cho was forced to work as a labourer. She was finally able to escape to the police who deported her back to Burma.