Starving and desperate North Koreans flee their homes for relative paradise in China. But as this astonishing footage shows, the journey to China is nightmarish. Naked North Koreans swim across a freezing river, often trading drugs or women with corrupt boarder police.
North Korea is facing a grave food shortage and hunger crisis right now. During the 1990s, 1 million of the country's 23-million citizens perished during a famine caused by a mismanaged farm sector and flooding. Another disaster appears on the horizon. Unfortunately, North Korea's isolationist character, as well as South Korean political demands, are preventing South Korea from providing crucial food aid. Thus, many people have no choice but to flee.
China does not consider North Koreans refugees but rather economic migrants. To find out what that means for the escapees, read more.
If the escapees manage to avoid being sent back to North Korea and punished with time spent in labor camps, they have no real protections in China. Some are sold into the sex industry, some get married for papers, some try to escape to South Korea.
Sadly, a risky crossing and clandestine life in China exceeds their quality of life (or potential death) back home.
Should the surrounding countries like China and South Korea do more to address the humanitarian crisis, or is it North Korea's problem? South Korea is reluctant to send food aid if North Korea does not make concessions regarding its nuclear program — but is that a fair trade? Will a starving population put pressure on North Korea to change its international policy?