Stage one, as he calls it, takes place inside North Korea, where the suppliers lure women from their homes with promises of a lucrative trip to China.
These recruiters—either North Korean nationals or Korean-Chinese, and usually male—typically hang out around urban train stations in the border regions and chat up attractive young women who pass by.
They hoped to find a way to slip across the border into Hong Kong. “But the church would only feed them, give them a few dollars, and let them go.” Keep up with this story and more Kim was outraged. He provided safe houses, food, clothing, and money; eventually he organized secret passage across China to third countries.
Before long, he gained a reputation along the new underground railroad as someone North Koreans could count on for assistance.
Women may hold up half the sky, in Mao Zedong’s famous phrase, but they are treated as second-class citizens in much of modern China.
Kim, a practicing Christian, became a regular attendee.
One Sunday he noticed two shabbily dressed men seated in a corner of the room.
There was no sign on the door and no cross on the roof.
The 100 or so congregants had learned about the church as Kim had, by word of mouth.
Steven Kim, an American businessman from Long Island, New York, may be the world’s leading expert on the market for North Korean brides. It wasn’t registered with the Chinese government, as required by law, so it operated underground, billing itself as a cultural association.