A new outbreak of Coronavirus in Northeast China’s Jilin Province has led authorities there to restrict travel and institute additional control measures. According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, the new measures make it nearly impossible for North Korean sex-trafficked women there to feed their families.
“The biggest worry today for North Korean women in Northeast China is not Coronavirus but starvation,” says Representative Foley. “Now even in the smallest markets and towns, in order to purchase food, ID cards are required. Of course, the North Korean women don’t have ID cards because they were sex-trafficked to China illegally.”
Representative Foley says that North Korean women living alone there are especially at risk.
“Some of the women’s husbands have died or abandoned them, or they have escaped abusive situations,” says Representative Foley.
“Since ID cards are now required for food purchase, they cannot buy food to eat. They have no relatives who are legally able to purchase food for them. If they go to the market without ID cards, they can be reported and sent back to North Korea, where they will be severely punished.”
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea anticipated the possible lockdown and has so far purchased a 7–month supply of food for 13 North Korean women and their families. But Representative Foley says that the number of North Korean women in the area is far greater.
“There are hundreds of sex-trafficked North Korean women in Jilin Province. They are spread all over the countryside, in very isolated areas,” says Foley. “They have no one to turn to for help even when times are good. Now, under these lockdown conditions, they need all the prayers and assistance we can offer.”
“North Korean women are sold to impoverished Chinese men living in poor conditions,” Representative Foley explains.
“Because they are not living in China legally and the men who bought them are afraid they may be returned to North Korea if caught, these women are often hidden completely from public view. They are especially susceptible to the Coronavirus because they do not receive medical care or protection.” Representative Foley says that is why Voice of the Martyrs Korea also sent masks, medicine, and other supplies to the women in the area, including audio Bibles. “Food and masks and medicine are helpful for their health, but only the word of God can bring them hope,” says Representative Foley. “We know the North Korean sex-trafficked women really appreciate the food and supplies we are sending, but it is always the audio Bibles that they thank us for specifically.”
Workers in Northeast China prepare a food package to be sent to a North Korean woman.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is raising money to purchase food and other supplies to reach additional North Korean sex-trafficked women in Northeast China.
“13 families is just a drop in the bucket,” says Representative Foley.
“We need to do more, as quickly as possible. Last time we sent aid, we were able to get it in the day before deliveries were stopped. We need to pray that deliveries remain possible in this area, and that we can reach as many of these North Korean sex-trafficked women as possible, providing what is needed for their physical and spiritual health.”
Representative Foley says that 1,000 CNY (roughly 173,000 KRW) can provide the basic staples needed for one of these families to feed itself for the next seven months.
“Whatever funds are raised in this emergency appeal, we will use to provide food, care items, and Christian discipleship resources for the North Korean sex-trafficked women in Northeast China and their families,” representative Foley explains.
In Northeast China, a box of food supplies is prepared for shipping to a North Korean sex-trafficked woman in the area.
Churches and individuals interested in making a donation to support these North Korean sex-trafficked women can do so according to the methods listed on the VOMK website at vomkorea.com/en/donation.
Please be sure to indicate “COVID” on your donation. The deadline for donations for this emergency project is May 31.