Cybersex operators target North Korean females
Publish date: 12 June 2019
Issue Number: 1785
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw
For five years, North Korean defector Lee Yumi – whose name has been changed for her safety – says she was imprisoned with a handful of other girls in a tiny apartment in northeast China, after the broker she trusted to plan her escape from North Korea sold her to a cybersex operator. CNN reports that her captor allowed her to leave the apartment once every six months. Attempts to escape failed. Lee's story is shared by thousands of North Korean girls and women, some as young as nine, who are being abducted or trafficked to work in China's multimillion-dollar sex trade, according to a report by the London-based non-profit organisation Korea Future Initiative (KFI). North Korean women are often enslaved in brothels, sold into repressive marriages or made to perform graphic acts in front of webcams in satellite towns near cities close to China's border with North Korea, the KFI found. If caught by the Chinese authorities, they face repatriation to North Korea where defectors are often tortured. The report notes that Korean NGOs estimate that 70% to 80% of North Korean women who make it to China are trafficked, for between $890 to $4 500, depending on their age and beauty. Some are sold as brides to Chinese farmers; more recently, girls have increasingly been trafficked into the cybersex industry, according to the KFI.