Sex trafficking in a horrific problem all around the world, but it is rampant in Asia. According to a new report from CNN, a large number of North Korean women are trafficked into cybersex operations across China.
Thanks to one pastor, who locals know as the “Asian Schindler,” these women are being rescued from the multimillion-dollar sex trade industry, and being set free.
In an interview with CNN, one defector shared her story of captivity, detailing how she spent five years in a tiny apartment in northeast China, after being sold to a cybersex operator.
It’s not uncommon for a North Korean defector to be tricked into becoming a sex slave, and in fact, it is common.
Lee, like many others, paid a broker to help her escape China, who would also help her land a job in China.
After crossing into China, Lee realized that the broker was not going to help her get a job. Instead, he took her money, and sold her to a cybersex operator.
When I found out, I felt so humiliated,” Lee told CNN. “I started crying and asked to leave, but the boss said he had paid a lot of money for me and I now had a debt toward him.”
The years that followed were horrific.
Lee was forced to perform sexual acts in a cybersex chatroom and was only allowed to leave the apartment every six months. Lee and the other girls that were kept in the apartment did not receive any profit and were beaten if they asked for compensation.
After being in captivity for years, Lee decided she would try to escape. Her escape failed miserably, as she fell and hurt her back and leg when climbing down a window and metal drain.
“I felt like dying 1,000 times, but I couldn’t even kill myself as the boss was always watching us,” she told CNN. “During those outings, he would always stay right next to us, so we never got to talk to anyone.”
In 2018, Lee finally saw light at the end of the tunnel.
“One of my customers realized I was North Korean and was being held captive,” said Lee. “He bought a laptop and let me take control of the screen remotely so I could send messages without my boss noticing.”
The man also gave Lee the contact information for Chun Ki-Won, a South Korean pastor and former businessman who has rescued thousands of sex-slaves.
Chun deemed “the Asian Schindler,” for his efforts, is part of a band of Korean pastors who rescue women from sex-trafficking rings in Asia.
“In the past few years, dozens of missionaries linked to my organization have been deported from China,” Chun told CNN. “There are only a few left, and they have to stay on the move constantly to avoid being arrested.”
Lee contacted Chun in 2018, writing to him on KakaoTalk, a Korean messaging service.
“Hi, I want to go to South Korea. Can you help me?” she wrote.
“Don’t worry, we are going to rescue you.” Lee typed back as she began to cry: “Thank you. I’m afraid.”
In October 2018, Lee was rescued.
After being in contact with Pastor Chun, he was able to send a team to her city to save her and another girl from the apartment.
They drove five days to south China, where the women were then smuggled into a neighboring country, before seeking asylum at the South Korean Embassy.
After entering South Korea, they went through several months of assimilation, where they were taught things like how to get groceries from a supermarket. After they were trained in these basic skills, they were given passports, a place to live, and the ability to receive an education free of cost.
“I never really had the luxury of wondering what to do with my life,” Lee said.
North Korean defectors
North Koreans are fleeing the country in doves, if they can.
As previously reported by Faithwire News, the U.S. State Departments most recent congressionally mandated International Religious Freedom report, details that between 80,000 and 120,000 North Korean Christians are currently imprisoned in North Korea.
Since 1998, South Korea has reported that they have accepted 32,000 defectors, accepting 1,137 last year alone.
Chun told NBC News in an interview that 99% of defectors to China enter through a human trafficking ring.
“Because there’s high demand for women in China, people in China will pay border patrol to bring women over,” he said. “The North Koreans know that they’re being sold when they escape, so they naturally fall into human trafficking.”
Due to his work to help rescue women from sex-trafficking, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has called Chun a “cancer who should be eradicated.”
“North Korea announces that they’ll kill me once or twice a year,” he said. “China is emphatic about wanting to capture me.”
Despite the possibility of being caught, Chun will help North Koreans escape the “physical and spiritual kingdom of darkness under which they live; to proclaim to the North Korean people the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and to compassionately serve and strengthen them as they rebuild their lives … no matter what the cost.”