A North Korean woman who was sold as a sex slave in China and then imprisoned risked everything - even her life - to return home and share her Christian faith with her family.
As a young woman living in the isolated country of North Korea, Myoung-Hee began to have questions about the outside world after reading the works of Russian authors like Leo Tolstoy. However, she knew better than to ask questions; she didn't want to be one of the people who went missing because they came under suspicion of the state.
"I wanted to leave North Korea. I got the opportunity to go to China on a sponsored student program, but I refused," she told World Watch Monitor. "Going abroad under the umbrella of the state meant they would monitor and control me. No, if I wanted to leave, I had to go by myself without telling anyone."
After graduating high school, Myoung-Hee went to the Chinese border, swam across the river and left her home behind. She trekked into China until she came to a village. However, what happened next was shocking.
"I was caught by human traffickers and sold to a Chinese farmer," she revealed. "He wasn't as bad as most Chinese men who buy North Korean women. I had a child with him, but I could never feel at home in his family."
Her mother-in-law also lived with them, but Myoung-Hee often felt she behaved suspiciously.
She recalled: "Some days she left without saying where she was going. One night I followed her. It was a long way before she reached a place where some kind of meeting was going on. I called after her. She was surprised to see me, but then invited me to take part. It was a Christian meeting, which made me uncomfortable because I had always been against Christianity. But my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to stay. I actually found myself wanting to learn more about God."
As a young girl, Myoung-Hee had rejected any form of Christianity - even though her parents were Christians - after her uncle and several others were executed for their faith. But, she continued attending meetings with her mother-in-law and eventually converted to the faith she once despised.
After embracing Christianity, Myoung-Hee felt compelled to return home to North Korea and share her faith with her family. She eventually persuaded her Chinese family to allow her to leave.
While attempting to cross the border, the young woman was arrested by a military patrol and sent to prison. The treatment prisoners endured at the hands of the Chinese guards was horrific.
"When I saw how the other prisoners and I were treated - as if we weren't human - I felt like giving up," she said. "I worried a lot in prison, thinking I would never see my family again."
While in prison, Myoung-Hee relied on her faith to give her hope that she could be reunited with her family. Over and over again, she repeated Bible verses she had memorized, especially Psalm 62:6-7 - "He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God."
After a few months in the camp, the prison guards found out where Myoung-Hee came from, and she was transferred to a camp closer to her home town. The young woman patiently waited for an opportunity to escape.
"One night the guards were drunk and they hadn't locked the doors," she recalled. "I sneaked out and ran. My heart was pounding so fast. I didn't stop running until I saw a sign pointing to my home."
Myoung-Hee was reunited with her family, who were overjoyed to discover she had embraced their faith.
"It was the most joyous experience ever," she said. "We were so happy to see each other. For the first time we worshipped God together as a family. I also attended small gatherings of other Christian families."
Eventually, Myoung-Hee decided to return home to her Chinese family and share her faith with them.
"My husband and son had to hear the Gospel too," she said. "It was a dangerous trip. I could have been arrested again and punished. But nothing could extinguish my passion for Christ."
Today, Myoung-Hee lives in South Korea with her family, including her Chinese husband son - who both became Christians.
"I will never forget my childhood," she said. "There are so many Christian parents in North Korea who cannot share their faith with their children. It breaks my heart. I was once a victim of this too. But thanks to other people's prayers I found God in the end. And thanks to the prayers of my mother-in-law, I survived prison. My life story testifies to the power of prayer. I hope it's a call to all Christians to join in prayer so that God will bring grace and justice to North Korea."
For over a decade, North Korea has ranked no. 1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where believers face the most persecution.
"Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don't comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed," reads the report. "Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps, where unknown numbers die each year from torture, beatings, overexertion and starvation. Those who attempt to flee to South Korea through China risk execution or life imprisonment, and those who stay behind often fare no better."