"Why are our lives so different, just because of where we are born?" That's the question posed to the Washington Post by Suh, a 30-year-old North Korean woman now being held in a Bangkok detention center after being busted by local cops while trying to cross from Laos to Thailand. And this is only her most recent travail: Suh and two other women interviewed by the Post were trying to flee their lives as sex "video chatters" in China, an online profession many women are sucked into after first escaping North Korea—either by willingly getting sold to Chinese men to get out of their home country, or after being tricked into thinking they were being hired for jobs in China, only to end up as human trafficking victims. Purchasing North Korean women is big business in China for men who can't find wives any other way: The asking price for women between 15 and 25 can near $12,000.
Life in China is impoverished and dangerous for these North Korean nationals: They can be deported back to their home country if they're caught, per Radio Free Asia. North Korean women trying to survive there often fall into the online "video chatting" business, allowing them to bring in some extra cash from the safety of their own homes. But it's a demeaning, demoralizing trade. "I felt so disgusting," Suh says. And it's what led Suh (who brought her 18-month-old daughter with her, but had to leave her 5-year-old daughter behind) and the two other women to try to escape once more—this time to Laos, then to Thailand, where they wouldn't have been able to be repatriated back to North Korea. The two women being detained with Suh want to eventually make it to South Korea, but Suh is applying for asylum instead in "the strongest country on Earth": the United States. (Their sad story here.)