GSL Online

Gender & Sexuality Law Online is a webjournal published by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

The Creation of the Living Dead: North Korean Refugee Women in China

Author: Jeannie Chung, JD 2010

Abstract: North Korean refugee women who cross the border into China are vulnerable to traffickers who channel them into sex work or “marriage” to rural Chinese farmers. Faith-based NGOs play a unique role in the assistance of these women, because, unlike other anti-trafficking NGOs throughout the world, these organizations work outside the state to provide health and welfare services to the refugees who have left their Chinese “husbands” or sex work. Indeed, North Korean refugees need the assistance of the NGOs because they are considered statusless in China, and China regularly deports North Korean refugees, regardless of their marriage status. When repatriated in North Korea, refugees are sent to labor camps, their families are deemed “hostile” and consequently, access to basic life-sustaining needs is limited, and pregnant refugee women are often forced to undergo abortion, or officials will commit infanticide of their babies so! on after birth. Furthermore, the Chinese-Korean children of refugee women are forced to stay behind in China while their mothers are repatriated back to North Korea. North Korea uses the bodies of its citizens and repatriated refugees to advance two goals: to preserve loyalty to the North Korean state and to preserve purity among the North Korean race. Moreover, China and North Korea’s policies render these women, and their orphaned children who are left behind in China, a necropolitical population, in which both China and North Korea exercise sovereignty over the lives and deaths of these women and children.

Full Article: The Creation of the Living Dead: North Korean Refugee Women in China

Subjects: Immigration, International Law, Sex Work, Trafficking


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