In interviews with a reporter in Washington last week, group members told harrowing stories of their paths from North Korea to the U.S.
North Korean refugee Chan Mi Shin, 20, spoke of foraging for grasses, the only food her family could find, to make broth and of being so hungry during the famine that killed millions that she started hallucinating that an accordion's keys were cookies and candies.
Speaking through an interpreter, she and the three other women explained how each had been sold as brides or prostitutes to already married Chinese men who paid the equivalent of a few hundred dollars for them. Shin was sold into marriage three times within a year of turning 16.
[Her brother] said he was sent back to North Korea three times in six years, each time crossing the river back into China. He spent 18 months in labor camps, prison and torture facilities.
"The torture that I experienced, I didn't even know existed," he said. "They would take a wrench and clamp it on my finger and break it."
When asked by a reporter if he still has scars, he pulled up his shirt to reveal faint red marks on his back that remain from beatings with a steel whip.
[Excerpt of an article by Valerie Reitman, L.A. Times]