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Park Ji-hyun

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the  country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death.    In the 1990s North Korea experienced a wide scale famine that killed up to 1 million people. After her family was displaced, Ji-hyun was left to care for her dying father. To escape starvation, she and her brother left, travelling with traffickers into China. Ji-hyun was told that if she wanted to provide for her family, she must marry a Chinese man. After being in China for 6 years Ji-hyun was reported to the authorities., sent back to North Korea and placed in a correctional facility before being sent to Chongin labour camp in Songpyong District. After becoming ill and unable to work, Ji-hun was dismissed from the labour camp. Alone and homeless she arranged to be re-trafficked back to China in order to find the son she had left behind. Once reunited, they escaped with the help of a man who Ji-hyun fell in love with. They all now live as a family in the UK. 

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Young-Soon

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the country prompts many to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries, especially China. Within North Korea, forced labour is part of an established system of political repression. The government subjects its nationals to forced labour through mass mobilisations and in North Korean prison camps. There are an estimated 80 000 to 120 000 prisoners being held in political prison camps in remote areas of the country.  Here men, women and children are subjected to unhygienic living conditions, beatings, torture, rape, lack of medical care and insufficient food. Many do not survive and furnaces and mass graves are used to dispose the bodies of those who die.    Young Soon, along with her family, was forced into an internment camp in North Korea as a political prisoner. Forced to live in a cramped hut and fed only gruel, Young Soon worked long hours in a corn field. All members of her family either died of malnutrition or were killed. After nine years, Young-Soon was able to escape to South Korea. 

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Ying A.

Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Human rights organizations claim that Falon Gong practitioners are often targeted for arrest, along with ethnic minorities, Catholics, Protestants, and Tibetans. By some estimates around 100,000 Falon Gong practitioners have been sent to the Laogai. Ying was one of these individuals. A student in France, she was imprisoned in 2000 while visiting her family in China.

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Shenli

Lin Shenli was sentenced to 18 months of “reeducation through labor” in a Chinese prison camp on January 23, 2000 for taking part in illegal Falun Gong activities. He was released in January 2002, after two years in the labor camp. Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment.

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Shengqui

Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment: Fu Shengqi was held repeatedly between 1981 and 1995 on charges of counter-revolutionary propaganda, and was granted political asylum in the US in 1996.

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Jiang

Guo Jiang spent 20 years in slave labor within the Chinese prison system. Officially abolished on 28th December 2013, Reeducation Through Labour Camps subjected dissidents to forced labour, torture and terrible living conditions. Some academics suggest that the replacement system, Custody and Education camps, are largely the same as these. Religious and political activists held in legal education facilities previously reported forced labor occurred in pretrial detention and outside of penal sentences.

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Bin

Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Since 1999, the Chinese Communist party has executed a campaign of persecution against the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, which is seen as a “threat to social and political stability.” Practitioners have reported being detained and mistreated while in detention, including torture and forced labour. Human rights organizations claim that Falon Gong practitioners are often targeted for arrest, along with ethnic minorities, Catholics, Protestants, and Tibetans. Bin, a journalist for a newspaper that reported on Falun Gong, spent two years in the Laogai. It is estimated that 0.25% of the population of China are living in modern slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index, “China still faces an enormous issue with the trafficking of women and children for forced marriage and the sex trade, both internally and on a transnational level as criminal gangs become more sophisticated.”

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Yin Liping

Yin Liping is a Falun Gong practitioner who was enslaved as a political prisoner in China. She was arrested seven times between 2000 and 2013, tortured, and incarcerated in labour camps, including the Masanjia Labor Camp, during three of her detentions. In August 2013, she escaped from China to Thailand and in 2015 she was granted refugee status in the United States. She told her story at a Congressional hearing on China's use of systematic torture in its detention facilities.

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Sam

Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Human rights organizations claim that Falon Gong practitioners are often targeted for arrest, along with ethnic minorities, Catholics, Protestants, and Tibetans. By some estimates around 100,000 Falon Gong practitioners have been sent to the Laogai. Sam Lu was one of these individuals. Sam, who now lives in the US, was imprisoned in 2000. He wrote his story to help end the ongoing enslavement of his wife in a different Chinese labour camp.

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Songhwa

Songhwa Han escaped to China from North Korea in the mid-1990s. After being detained in China, she was returned to North Korea, where she was held in forced labour in a state prison camp. While living in China as a refugee she also endured forced marriage, domestic abuse, detention, and official beatings. She received protection with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2006 and asylum in the United States in 2008. China has forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Korean refugees over the past two decades. Most have been punished in North Korea with beatings, torture, detention, forced labour, and sexual violence. China’s decision to forcibly repatriate them violates the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

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Jennifer

Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked across international borders each year, but millions more are enslaved within their own countries. Unknown numbers have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system is intended to “reeducate criminals” and uses prisoners as a source of cheap labor. The camps produce major consumer goods and pay no salaries. Prisoners work for up to 16 hours a day and experience solitary confinement, torture, gang rape, sleep deprivation, malnutrition, drugging, and brainwashing. Some of the Laogai prisoners are practitioners of Falon Gong, a spiritual movement based on Buddhist principles that was banned in China in 1999. Jennifer Zeng was one of these individuals. She was held in Beijing Xin’an Female Labor Camp and forced to make toys.