North Korean refugees.
I'll admit that I hadn't really thought about them or the risks they face when they decide to leave their home country. I'm glad someone -- besides the opportunists -- has been thinking about them.
Hiding in villages among Chinese citizens of Korean descent, North Korean asylum seekers are victimized twice. Once they make it into China, they are highly vulnerable to abuse, extortion and exploitation. Desperate women sell sexual services through prostitution or arranged marriage. Or they are sold or abducted into sexual slavery. Some are beaten by violent Chinese husbands after seeking shelter with church groups who tell them marriage is the only way to avoid detection.
China's growing population imbalance means many poor farmers cannot easily find brides. The women often face abuse and beatings but several interviewed said "their current situation is better than risking repatriation or starvation."
"There are countless testimonies of beatings, torture, degrading treatment, and even forced abortions and infanticide from those who have escaped."
The Chinese government does not recognize North Koreans as refugees but rather as "economic migrants," an inaccurate classification the Chinese government uses to deny North Koreans their rights under International Law, including safe passage to "friendly nations." The Chinese government also aggressively seeks out North Korean refugees and returns them back to North Korea.
Upon return to North Korea many are summarily executed while others end up in gulags internationally deplored for their abominable conditions and inhumane treatment, including forced abortions, sexual assault and systemic torture.
Action in Aid of North Korean Refugees (AANKR) is a team of concerned US citizens committed to raising money and awareness for North Korean Refugees. Our primary fundraising efforts are centered on Helping Hands Korea ( http://www.helpinghandskorea.org/) a charity which helps North Korean refugees living along the China-North Korea border escape persecution and poverty via an Underground Railroad.
(Sources include Mike Jendrzejczyk's From Eating Rats in North Korea to Sex Abuse in China: A Refugee Travesty, and North Korean sex slaves flooding China: US official from the Taipei Times 12/10/05)
To see one fundraising project visit, motivatemyrun.blogspot.com where a runner is preparing to enter the Shamrock Marathon to raise money for helpinghandskorea.org which provides safe houses and food for North Korean refugees.