A group of North Korean defectors escaped being held as cybersex slaves in China after a priest nicknamed the ‘Asian Schindler’ helped break them out.
‘Lee’, whose name has been changed, claims she was held captive along with other girls in a tiny apartment and forced to perform in sex shows on webcams.
After being smuggled across the border, the broker who promised Lee a job at a restaurant then sold her to a cybersex gang in north east China.
She spent seven years performing sex acts in a chatroom after being sold for 30,000 yuan (around £4,000), before escaping by climbing out of the window, according to CNN.
Lee reportedly crossed the Tumen River which separated China and North Korea in a group of eight girls.
Many who make this dangerous journey have to cross in water up to their shoulders.
‘Lee’ and another woman named as ‘Kwang’ escaped from the apartment where they were being held by climbing out of the window
The pair lowered themselves down from the fourth floor flat using bed sheets tied together and were ushered into a waiting car and smuggled across the border into a neighbouring country
When she arrived in the city of Yanji and realised there was no restaurant job, Lee said she felt ‘humiliated’.
She told CNN she left her home because her parents were strict, adding: ‘When I found out, I felt so humiliated. I started crying and asked to leave, but the boss said he had paid a lot of money for me and I now had a debt towards him.’
Her captor, a South Korean man, kept all the girl’s money and would only let them go outside during supervised group visits to a nearby park every six months.
When Lee asked for a cut of the estimated 60 million won (about £40,000) she had earned during her time on camera, he reportedly got angry and began cursing and slapping her.
Lee told CNN: ‘Some of the men just wanted to talk, but most wanted more. They would ask me to take suggestive poses or to undress and touch myself. I had to do everything they asked.
‘I felt like dying 1,000 times, but I couldn’t even kill myself as the boss was always watching us.
‘During those outings, he would always stay right next to us, so we never got to talk to anyone.’
The team of rescuers were sent to Yanji in norther China by pastor called Chun Ki-Won
Chun has been dubbed the ‘Asian Schindler’ in the Korean media for his rescues of trafficked North Koreans in China
It was not until a chance encounter with a stranger online that turned out to be a pastor called Chun Ki-Won, that she was rescued.
The priest from South Korea has been nicknamed in Korean media the ‘Asian Schindler’ for his daring rescue bids of trafficked victims from North Korea.
During their webchat he reportedly told Lee: ‘Don’t worry, we are going to rescue you.’ Lee typed back as she began to cry: ‘Thank you. I’m afraid.’
Chun bought Lee a laptop and let her take control of the screen remotely, so she could send messages without her boss noticing.
His Christian aid organisation, Durihana, is thought to have helped over 1,000 defectors reach Seoul since 1999.
China does not consider North Korean defectors as refugees and sends anyone caught in the country back as ‘illegal migrants’.
In October last year Chun dispatched a team to Yanji to extract Lee and another girl named ‘Kwang’.
The pair were lowered from the fourth floor apartment window using bed sheets tied together and within minutes they were whisked away to South Korea in a car.
Chun Ki-Won told CNN that getting trafficked women to escape through a fourth floor window is a last resort
Once Lee and Kwang were taken on a five-day journey to south China, the pair were smuggled out of China and to a South Korean embassy in another country
After travelling for five days to south China the pair were smuggled into a neighbouring country and seeking asylum in the South Korean embassy.
North Korean women are often enslaved in brothels, sold into repressive marriages or made to perform on webcams, according to a report by the London-based charity Korea Future Initiative (KFI), which works to rescue those in danger.
South Korean pastors have set up a network of routes and safe houses in China inspired by the Underground Railroad used in the US by enslaved African-Americans to escape during the Civil War.
There are no official statistics showing exactly how many North Koreans have fled their country, which is home to about 25 million people.
South Korea says it has welcomed more than 32,000 defectors since 1998.
Border patrols have been stepped up in recent years, especially on the Chinese side as Beijing wants to avoid an influx of refugees from the hermit kingdom.
After Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011, border security was tightened on the North Korea side to stop defectors leaving the country.
Michael Glendinning, director of the KFI, said the Chinese government was ‘not doing enough to protect North Korean women and girls in its territory’.
South Korea says it has welcomed more than 32,000 defectors since 1998. Pictured are North Korean soldiers patrol next to the border fence near the town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese border town of Dandong
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly executed a number of his aides, most recently in the fall out from the failed US nuclear talks with Donald Trump
But a spokesman for the Chinese government said in a statement to CNN: ‘I want to stress that the Chinese government pays high attention to foreign citizens’ legitimate rights according to law, also combat activities of human trafficking women and child.’
North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un reportedly executed a general accused of plotting a coup by throwing him into a piranha-filled fish tank.
The unnamed general was said to be the latest victim of the dictatorial leader, who has reportedly executed numerous aides.
He was said to have executed his envoy to the US by firing squad in May after nuclear talks with Donald Trump broke down.
It had also been feared the North Korean leader had executed his pop star girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol, in 2013 for allegedly making a sex tape.
But she was photographed next to Kim last week as they visited factories and the pair were also side-by-side watching the Mass Games gymnastics performance in Pyongyang.