MT: How do North Korean women feed into the human trafficking problem?
MK: There’s a severe shortage of young women in China, due to China’s one-child policy, which has been in effect for 30 years. Many young Chinese men are desperate for wives. This has sparked a market in North Korean brides – young women who are kidnapped or tricked into going to China, where they are sold as “wives” to Chinese men. A North Korean woman who is sold as a bride is in a hopeless situation. If she leaves her husband and goes to the Chinese police, they will arrest her and send her back to North Korea, where she’ll be imprisoned for the crime of leaving her country. If she’s pregnant, her unborn child either will be aborted or delivered and killed. Every former North Korean bride I interviewed remembers the price that she was sold for.
MT: How can or does all this impact U.S. policy toward North Korea?
MK: First, we should face up to the fact that it is impossible to help North Koreans inside North Korea. The regime won’t let international food aid reach the people in need. It’s diverted to the elites and the military.
But we can do more to help the North Koreans who escape. We can publicize their plight more than we do. We can help them get more information into North Korea by increasing our aid to North Koreans who are running radio stations and other programs that send information to North Koreans in North Korea. The exiled North Koreans are helping to open their information-starved homeland. In doing so, they are opening the minds of their countrymen and sowing the seeds for dissent. We need to better support that effort.
The U.S. and the United Nations also need to put more pressure on China to stop sending North Koreans back to North Korea.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the stated policy of the U.S. should be the removal of the Kim family regime.
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