Witness Reports

North Korea

North Korea

A recently updated report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea describes one former detainee’s testimony of painful forced abortions for women detained and thought to be carrying “impure” fetuses:

[A] drug that in diluted form is used to treat skin wounds was injected into pregnant women’s wombs, inducing labor within hours. As there had not been the normal widening of the hipbones during the advance stages of pregnancy to enlarge the birth canal, the labor pains were the same as when delivering a fully grown baby. When the women moaned or cried out in pain as they lay on wooden and cement cell floors, they were hit with wooden stoves and cursed as "bitches who got Chinese sperm and brought this on themselves."

Afterward, the women were not allowed to bathe, nor given so much as a tissue or towel to clean themselves. Their babies, the former detainee recalls, were “wrapped in newspaper and put in a bucket to die.”

The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea also reports the testimony of Bang Mi-sun, who was captured after having fled over the border and suffered through several trafficked “marriages.” What she recalls is not only ethnic cleansing through forced abortions, but the forcing of prisoners to attack their peers:

Mrs. Bang Mi-sun observed ten pregnant women in early 2002 taken to a hospital from the Musan An-jeon-bu detention facility for the purpose of aborting their "half-Chinese babies." Another seven-month pregnant woman adamantly refused to go to the hospital and guards compelled male prisoners to jump on her stomach until the woman aborted on the floor. The woman was then taken to the hospital where she died.

Bang Mi-sun was herself reportedly subjected to sexualized violence. After fleeing over the border, she was trafficked a total of three times. Horrifying as that may be, the last “husband” she was forced to be with before she was repatriated committed an additional form of torture:

Shortly thereafter, while her "husband" was out in the field, she was kidnapped by another gang of traffickers and sold a second time. She ran away but was again apprehended by traffickers who sold her "like livestock" she says for a third time to a 34-year-old bachelor who was still living with his parents. He demanded that Mrs. Bang, then 48 years old, bear him a child, a prospect she thought preposterous to begin with. She told her third "husband" that she had received an intrauterine contraceptive device in North Korea following the birth of her third child. Her "husband" and his friends held her, spread-eagled on the floor, while a "doctor" of some sort "rolled up his sleeves" and manually removed the "ring." Bleeding profusely she became infected, and could not walk or stand up. She spent a month on the floor recovering, mostly in tears, she relates, at the "cruelty and shamefulness" that enveloped her.