Thousands of women have reportedly been victims of human smugglers since the 1990s, after famine struck North Korea. While looking for a lucrative job to provide for their families at home, they didn’t realize at that their journey would result in forced marriage to Chinese men. Some of those women were lucky enough to start new families, having found good devoted husbands, but others have been systematically abused and bullied by their spouses or neighbors.
The media outlet has spoken to seven smuggled North Korean women and three Chinese husbands. Most of them were sold as brides to poor farmers, and stayed in China illegally, which means they never officially married their husbands. One of those interviewed has confessed that her husband once tied her to a post after she made an attempt to escape. While some of the women stayed in the country out of fear they would be tortured or jailed if they returned home, others tried to flee to South Korea, where they might get citizenship, resettlement money, almost-free accommodation, and where language would be no problem.
While some of these women managed to reach South Korea, one lady, interviewed by AP, revealed she hasn’t contacted her Chinese family since 2006, a remarkable situation given that she has a son there, because her husband treated her poorly.
"Some might say I am cold-hearted, but I left that house determined never to go back," she said with tears in her eyes. "Now I sometimes feel like going there because I'm curious about how my boy has grown up. But I can't do that," The Associated Press cited her as saying.
Chinese officials have reportedly refused to comment on the pressing issue of women smuggling. It has been suggested that China’s one-child policy might have increased the demand for trafficked women, as there are 34 million more men than women in the country.