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2016-01-21 17:53:50
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My name is Park Sun-Ja (name changed for protection purposes).  I was born in Hweryong, North Hamkyong Province, North Korea in March of 1977.  My father was a factory worker and my mother was an ordinary housewife.  I was the only girl in my family, and after finishing a two-year junior college in 1996, I worked as an inventory clerk at an army supply depot for approximately two years. 

First Defection and Arrest by the Chinese Police

I defected to China for the first time in March of 1998 because the food rationing program in North Korea had stopped and our family was extremely hungry.  I hoped I could earn money for two years in China and return back to North Korea with that money to help my parents.  However, after two years in China, I was arrested at the end of March 2000, in the Chinese city of Dalian.  I was detained in a Chinese prison for approximately a month, during which I was intensely interrogated, and then was sent back to North Korea at the end of April 2000 with six other North Korean defectors.

State Security Agency in Shinuiju

Upon arrival at the State Security Agency (SSA) in the city of Shinuiju, North Korea at the end of April 2000, all the women prisoners were forced to strip down to the skin for the purpose of having their anuses and vaginas inspected for hidden money.  There were some 30 to 40 prisoners, most of whom were defectors returned to North Korea from China. Severe beatings through the use of sticks, fists (punching), and feet (kicking) were standard practice.  Cells were dank and infested with insects, fleas, lice, and other parasites.  The food we received, a tiny quantity of coarse corn and a few pieces of boiled vegetables, was so little that we were literally starving.

Provincial Police Detention Camp in Shinuiju

I was finally cleared of my political offense charges after about a week, and was sent to the Provincial Police Detention Camp on 7 May 2000 to be claimed by my local police.  I was held here for two months with 60 or 70 other prisoners, also waiting to be taken to their local towns.  Merciless kicking and other beatings continued as common practice and the physical facilities were appalling, completely infested with various insects.  We were mobilized to work on house construction outside the camp, and I had to continuously load trucks with sand using nothing but a shovel. I was also forced to do extremely difficult and laborious field work (farming) while I was starving. It was such hard work!

There were some ten pregnant women detained in the camp during the same period I was there.  One young woman was from the city of Chongjin.  She was tall and strong, and expecting extremely soon.  Another woman was in her fifth month of pregnancy, and many others were either in their third or fourth months.  On the third or fourth day after my arrival, I was ordered to accompany the expecting woman, along with five other pregnant women, to the police hospital just outside the camp.  The expecting woman gave birth to a baby girl soon after our arriving at the hospital.  I heard the cries of both mother and child through the curtain.  I saw a nurse taking the baby into another room and disappeared into space separated by curtains.  I heard the infant crying, and through the partially open curtain, I witnessed the nurse covering the infant’s face with a wet towel on a table, suffocating it.  The baby stopped crying about ten minutes later.  I saw the other pregnant women given injections with thick needles.  I was there for about two or three hours, after which I was ordered to take the woman who had just given birth to the infant girl and who was still crying, back to the camp.  That woman was allowed two days rest and then was forced back to the arduous labor like every other prisoner.  The other pregnant women informed me later that they were all forced to abort.  All the prisoners there believed that all infants were killed immediately upon delivery and wrapped up in a piece of cloth before being buried at a nearby hill.

Defection and Arrest for the Second Time

I was so starved and weak; I thought I was going to die there.  Finally, in early July, 2000, after about two months at the camp, I was released even before my local police arrived to claim me.  I traveled alone without any police escort and reached my home after 7 days.  I stayed at home for three days and defected to China for the second time on 15 July, 2000

I was arrested in Delien again by the Chinese police on 27 April, 2001.  This time, I was punished and held in the Chinese prison for two months because they remembered me and knew this was the second time I was arrested.  They told me they would detain me for six months if I were to be arrested again.  I responded, “Go ahead and detain me as long as you wish. I will defect from North Korea ten or twenty times regardless of how long you hold me for!”

I was sent to North Korea in July, 2001.  And, as before, I was interrogated here for seven days and warned that I would be imprisoned if I were caught and sent back from China again.  Then, I was sent to the Provincial Police Detention Camp, where, after nine days, my home town policemen arrived to take me home.  I was taken to my home town (Hweryong) SSA, where I was interrogated for ten days, after which I was transferred to a police station in the same town.  I was released after five days there; however, I was put under surveillance.  The thought of them returning to arrest me haunted me day and night.  All I did for a month was collect wild mushrooms in the mountains. 

Defection for the Third Time

I defected to China for the last time on 3 October, 2001 and eventually arrived in South Korea on 14 March, 2002.