Mia came to China from North Korea at the height of the North Korean famine in 1998. Like many, many North Korean refugee women, she was captured by traffickers right after she crossed the border. What was unusual about her case, however, was that she was put in a burlap sack and thrown into the back of a truck. “I felt like I was less than a pig,” said Mia.
She was sold for 5,000 Chinese RMB (about $600, according historical exchange rate data) to an abusive Chinese farmer, with whom she had a son.
Mia’s husband beat her so mercilessly that she saw suicide as the only escape to her situation. She tried sleeping pills, which didn’t work. She tried rat poison, which hospitalized her.
When Mia came to in the hospital, she was placed in a bed next to a Korean-Chinese prostitute, who told Mia to be strong and that there was a way out of her situation. Mia didn’t want to believe her. When Mia was ready to go back home, there were policemen outside her room patrolling the hospital. As a North Korean refugee, she would be arrested, imprisoned, sent back to North Korea. Mia's roommate told her to step outside. What happened next was both horrific and extraordinary.
Mia’s roommate exchanged her body for Mia’s freedom. After the police emerged from the hospital room, they allowed Mia to move to another village with her son. There, she was sold to another man, who was disabled but did not beat her.
She now attends church and has a job in the kitchen in a small boarding school in the countryside. She said that she realizes now that suicide was not her hope, her hope was God.
We believe there are many more like North Korean refugees who are living hopelessly in forced marriages and are waiting to be set free.
As we pray today, let us ask God to mobilize the church so that North Korean refugee women like Mia can be saved from their utter despair.