China is tightening control over N. Korean female migrants

Children of North Korean migrant women with Chinese fathers may be placed on their fathers' family registries in the future, sources report

Chinese authorities have ordered local security forces in areas bordering North Korea to standardize the investigation and treatment of female North Korean migrants in the region, Daily NK has learned. 

“All local police posts in Liaoning Province received orders in mid-December telling them to file reports on interrogations of female defectors and to store them along with the family registration documents of the Chinese males with whom the women cohabit,” a Daily NK source in China reported in mid-December. 

The new orders come on the heels of Chinese efforts to investigate the defection routes of North Korean migrant women to identify human traffickers in the region. 


“It looks like the authorities are aiming to manage the population of North Korean female migrants and their children on an official basis,” another source in China told Daily NK.

“The Chinese security forces have been informing female defectors of the specific administrative processes and costs of registering their children with the department that deals with household registrations. It seems that in future, the children of these women will be able to be registered on the family registers [of their Chinese fathers],” he added. 

It has hitherto been impossible for the children of illegal migrant North Korean mothers to be officially added to household registers in China. 

As a result, many births have gone unregistered or, in some cases, fathers have had to take genetic tests to demonstrate their paternity to the authorities, and then paid a fine in order to officially register their offspring.

In other instances, parents have been driven to more extreme courses of action. 

“Because in the past, female migrants haven’t been able to register the births of their children, this led in some cases to the transfer of household registrations of similarly aged Chinese children who had died,” the source explained. “The security forces have now cautioned that people who acquire registrations for their children under false pretenses in this way will face legal censure.”


While Chinese authorities’ new attitude may auger well for the children of Chinese fathers and migrant North Korean mothers, Chinese officials are not planning to allow the migrant women themselves to register in the same way. 

“The security officials have told female migrants that they won’t be issued identity documents,” one of the sources said. “As long as they put down roots in one place and live there quietly, though, there won’t be any problems.” 

In short, the Chinese authorities have told defector women in the region explicitly that they should stop worrying about being forcibly returned to North Korea and settle down with their Chinese families.

Sources also noted that Chinese authorities have been bringing groups of female migrants together and taking detailed notes of mobile and home phone numbers of both they and their husbands, as well as asking them when, where, and how they came to know their Chinese husbands. 

“They told everyone to report immediately to the police or heads of villages about any unidentified women in their villages by the end of December,” one of the sources recalled.

*Translated by Chris Green

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Jang Seul Gi is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to