Prayer for North Korean Refugees: Suicide

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.

Prayer for North Korean Refugees: A Homeless People

One of the first North Koreans to come to the U.S. committed suicide in April of 2010. Last year a North Korean refugee and his wife were found dead in their Rochester N.Y. apartment in an apparent murder suicide. Many of the more than 20,000 defectors to make it to South Korea find it hard to adjust to a market-based, modern economy. Such stories might not make sense if you don’t know the context. Why would North Korean refugees who escape from the suffering and poverty of North Korea and China, North Korean refugees who make the dangerous and impossible journey through the modern-day Underground Railroad lose hope once they finally reach their prosperous destination?

I have met North Koreans refugees in China, defectors in South Korea and in the U.S. The story of struggle is almost always the same. They are a people without a nation, a displaced people who cannot find home.

The world they leave behind in North Korea is a place of hunger and oppression. In China they are hunted by the police or captured and trafficked as sex slaves. In South Korea, though they speak the language, they find themselves lost in the frenetic pace of the highly developed country. In the U.S. where only 200 North Koreans have decided to make their home, they are given very little support by the government.

In addition to the adversity of the foreign countries in which they choose to settle, many North Korean refugees long to see their husbands, wives or children who they have left behind, loved ones they may never see again.

As we emerge from our homes this week and live our lives of plenty, let us remember those whose hearts will never be satisfied anywhere except in Jesus Christ. Let us pray for the North Korean refugees whose hearts are yet homeless.