On the border of China and North Korea, North Korean women are offered to Chinese brokers. They are sold on the human market to assure the subsistence of their remaining families. Becoming part of Chinese peasant families in the countryside, they work then in fields and on the farm and often become surrogate mothers. If they are discovered by Chinese police, they are arrested and sent back to North Korea. For them, there is a real dilemma: “Is it better to abandon the child and run away or to continue as is?” In these border villages, the endless tears of these women echo the plight of the following generation. Indeed, the children of these women do not get any identity papers neither by China, nor by North Korea. And surprisingly, not even by South Korea. Without registration, they cannot be educated, nor benefit from medical care, nor any of the other rights a normal citizen would enjoy. So, they become “phantoms”, without any legal and social existence.
To help the victims of this merciless system, where money is everything, an NGO helps the children concerned taking refuge in Thailand. From there, they might be adopted in the United States, in Europe, or sometimes in South Korea. Mi-jin, Hong-hi and Ji-young are three of these “phantoms” we filmed during their highly risky flight and onward journey.