Women Defectors' Testimony
Witness Testimony 1: A 22 year-old-woman defected with her family
A woman, stating anonymity, came to start her life in China with her family after they fled from North Korea during the peak of the food crisis in 1997. While speaking about the arduous and struggling part of her life in China, she described the hard times of living under great anxiety and highly insecure circumstances. She also shared her desperate battle of earning money in order for her family to survive under some degree of stability and explained a complex plot of cheating and betrayal occurring in the process of making money. From her experience of escaping North Korea and living in China, she displays a high degree of distrust and anxiety deeply rooted in her emotional state.
During the four years of living in China, their lives were filled with disruptions of always on the move and never settling in one place in fear of being caught by the Chinese authorities. Her family was always looking for a chance to leave China and finally in the winter of 2001, they initiated the first step in heading to Seoul.
Since they had resided in China for four years and were somewhat accustomed to getting around, they safely passed without particular difficulties from inland to the border area close to third country. However, just before they were about to cross the border, police personnel from the third country, who were lined along the border stopped the motorcycle they were riding. She said, “We finally were caught and if deported back to North Korea, we will die in the end. What are we going to do?” With anxiety and fear, she decided to fight against the obstacle and survive. The police personnel started to ask several questions to figure out whether they escaped from North Korea or were involved with illegal drug trafficking. She denied by answering “No” in Korean to their questions. To the questions in Chinese, she answered with gestures expressing she didn’t know anything. The police personnel shouted, threatening her and her mother, and started to check their clothes. When the police personnel was about to strip off their clothes, they realized that they had the mark of DPRK printed on the inside so they started to scream and face death in their resistance.
After the police personnel had a contending time with them, they finally released them, overwhelmed by the two women’s plight of resistance.
In recalling those days, she says that if they didn’t go through the risk of facing that obstacle, for sure they would have been deported back to North Korea. In that event, it was impossible for her to share her story there and further confided other difficulties and hardships in the process of escaping from North Korea.
Witness Testimony 2: A 16-year-old woman
An anonymous North Korean woman arrived to South Korea alone. Escaping North Korea in 1998, she made her entrance to South Korea earlier this year, 2002. Although the hardships she had undergone cannot be fully expressed in words, she briefly described her imprisonment, her passage to a third country and her journey to South Korea after finding out her identity. The other 5 individuals who attempted to flee from North Korea with her were put into a prison along with herself. While in the prison, she almost died from hunger. The fine for a few days of imprisonment amounted to about 50,000 Yuan but with a couple of days of negotiation, they were fortunately released with 10,000 Yuan.
In retrospect of that moment, she confesses, “I thought I was going to be deported back to North Korea. I was lucky to be freed.” Then, she finished her story.