Escape From North Korea: She Was Sold Into Slavery and Forced to Have an Abortion

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Feb 16, 2015   |   7:17PM   |   Washington, DC

In 1998, Ji Hyunah was sold into slavery in North Korea under Kim Jong-un’s regime and then forced to have an abortion without anesthesia. Ji explained more about her experience with The Telegraph.

She said, “We had to be strong. We had no choice. I decided not to die. I decided to survive. Why? Because I have a reason to live. It’s because too many people died for no reason and I want to stand up for them. I wanted to survive to fulfill their desire for freedom.”

Ji continued “My father was a Korean-Chinese and his hometown was in China. But he came to North Korea to study when he was 16 and he met my mother. By the 1990s, things had become very hard in North Korea. We were seized by traffickers. I was being sold. But human trafficking is not just like being sold and forced to live with someone. They were afraid that we would run away, so we were constantly watched. We lived in fear. There were Chinese brokers in each village. They would find out how many men in each Chinese village could not find a bride, and that number of women would be sent there.”

The first time Ji was sold she was sent to an elderly woman in China as a ‘gift’ to her son who was working in Japan.

She said, “It hurt that I was being sold. When they spoke on their phones, the brokers were worried that their calls were being monitored so they said they had so many ‘dogs’ and this many ‘pigs’. I felt like I really had become a pig, or a dog. But then I realized that it is better to be here in China than in North Korea.”

However, before she met her new husband she was captured by Chinese security agents and sent back to North Korea. She was placed a brutal prison where only 200 people of the 2,000 inmates survived.

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Ji said. “We had no food. We had to eat frogs and grasshoppers. We were not given clothes, so in the winter we had to wrap ourselves in plastic bags and put our clothes over the top.”

The second time Ji was trafficked she was sold to an old man who made her work on a farm to pay off his debts; but in 2002, Ji was repatriated to North Korea after Chinese authorities captured her again. She went to a detention center where it was discovered that she was pregnant by her former owner.

She said, “They carried out a forced abortion, without an anesthetic, but I was bleeding heavily for a long time. I was fortunate that one of the guards took pity on me and convinced his senior officer to release me.”


Thankfully, Ji finally escaped to Seoul, South Korea in 2007 and has been able to help her mother, brother and sister also reach Seoul. Now Ji is studying political science at Chonnam National University and has shared her story in a book titled, 244 Miles In Search of Freedom.

She concluded, “The reason that I speak out is because so many people were unable to survive the hardships of life in North Korea. A few, like me, can now enjoy our freedom, but the dead can’t. And when we factor in the countless others who have just disappeared, the real figure is far higher. For these victims, we need to lead lives that include a portion of their lives. We cannot permit ourselves to die or to become ill. We must ask ourselves what we can do. And the best thing that we could do would be to bring down the regime of Kim Jong-un.”

As LifeNews previously reported, in 2014 a United Nations Report on North Korea alleged that the Kim Jong-un regime has been guilty of crimes against humanity including forcing women to abort their babies or killing them after birth. The document said that these crimes included: “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”