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. Shin Don Hyuk was born in a political prison camp in North Korea. He recalls being under the constant supervision of armed guards who would tell him and the other children that they must work hard until they die to pay for the crimes of their parents. When he was 14 years old Shin Don Hyuk reported his parent’s plan to escape but instead of being rewarded was locked up and tortured alongside his family. He gives details of the torture he was subjected to and tells of the execution of his mother and brother. Shin Don Hyuk was able to escape and now tells of his experience to raise awareness of conditions in North Korean prison camps in the hopes of liberating the people kept there.
Lin Shenli was sentenced to 18 months of “reeducation through labor” in a Chinese prison camp on January 23, 2000 for taking part in illegal Falun Gong activities. He was released in January 2002, after two years in the labor camp. Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment.
Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment: Fu Shengqi was held repeatedly between 1981 and 1995 on charges of counter-revolutionary propaganda, and was granted political asylum in the US in 1996.