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China Forcibly Repatriates North Korean Refugees—Especially Christians

The State Department report on religious freedom in North Korea says that “authorities held 50,000 to 70,000 citizens in prison for being Christian.” Even Christians who were not imprisoned “experienced persecution that was ‘violent and intense.’” The report stated that “life for Christians … is a constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a mistake away.”

For more ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in North Korea, see here.

“China Forcibly Repatriates North Korean Refugees—Especially Christians,” by Nang Ji-Na, Bitter Winter, November 14, 2023:

We are all accustomed to deal with refugees “from” China. Yet, as strange as it may seem, there are also refugees who go “to” China. What kind of refugees would escape to China believing Xi Jinping’s country is freer than their own? The answer is—North Koreans.

China is one of the worst countries in the world for human rights. North Korea is “the” worst. You have better chances to be arrested, tortured, and executed in North Korea than in any other country of the world for a variety of reasons, and even for no reason whatsoever. If they could, North Koreans would escape elsewhere, but geography is such that from some parts of their unfortunate country the only place they can go with some chances of success in crossing the border is China, although some die while trying.

However, North Korean refugees are not safe in China. Young women may profit of the shortage of brides in China, a relic of the one-child policy when families aborted the girls and kept the boys, and marry a Chinese. However, there are many horrific tales of North Korean “slave brides” who never learn to speak Chinese and are abused and terrorized by their husbands. Other North Korean girls end up in the hands of Chinese organized crime and are trafficked as prostitutes.

Yet, this is not the worst possibility for North Korean refugees. The worst fate awaits those China decides to deport back to North Korea, something Xi Jinping’s regime does regularly, although somewhat capriciously. On October 25, 2023, a brave North Korean woman who was once repatriated from China and finally succeeded in escaping, gave a lecture in London. Her name is Kim Eunsun, and she published in 2012 her memoir “A Thousand Miles to Freedom,” translated into several languages.

Kim reported that China just deported back to North Korea 600 refugees, and may deport another 1,000 soon. Kim said life for refugees in China is precarious. They are expected not to “make trouble” or they are deported immediately. She offered the example of young girls who are raped. If they go to the Chinese police, rather than being helped they are deported. Yet, they still prefer to remain in China rather than being repatriated to North Korea. They know they will be jailed, tortured, and possibly killed there….

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