Saturday, December 06, 2008

No easy way out of North Korea

You look at the photo on the cover of Mike Kim’s extraordinary book “Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country” and have to confront an uneasy question: How did we as humans become so savage that we have let this kind of vicious inhumanity persist?

The most disturbing sections deal with sex trafficking. China’s one-child policy and preference for sons, means there aren’t enough women for its men, making North Korean women vulnerable to traffickers. More than 75 percent of the North Korean women crossing the border into China are subject to trafficking and rape.

Kim was a fledgling financial whiz kid in Chicago before he made a trip to China that changed his life. So moved was he by the stories he heard in China about North Korean refugees in hiding he quit his job and moved to California where he spent a year training to be a missionary specializing in humanitarian aid.

Within just a couple of years he had set up Crossing Borders Ministries, an NGO that provides food, medicine and shelter for North Korean refugees.

Kim is a truly incredible man. His account of shepherding four North Korean teenagers into the British Consulate-General in Shanghai is gripping stuff - a matter of life or death for the refugees - and his equally remarkable overland trip through Laos and Thailand would make for a sensational movie.

[JoongAng Daily]

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