By Melissa Jane Kronfeld & Hannah Blair
Born in South Korea, Chong Kim is a powerful voice in the movement to end human trafficking and modern slavery. A survivor of child sexual exploitation, Chong remains a steadfast advocate for those who are still trapped in slavery. In this capacity, she has worked across many sectors, from legal advocacy work to consulting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Currently, Chong is expanding the breadth her advocacy work by focusing on legislative changes. She has also served as an avid volunteer for various charities, outreach programs and has subsidized her service to local and national law enforcement agencies. In so doing, she empowers other survivors around the world through education and awareness to further a deeper understanding of what human trafficking is, the damage it causes its victims, and the path forward for survivors.
Chong’s story had been shared in an array of media outlets, including CNN, Women of Wealth Magazine, Look Magazine and Darling Magazine, and she won multiple awards for her efforts in leadership and activism. Recognized as “Top 40 Women Who Inspired the World,” Chong was also awarded Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of her leadership in protecting children from trafficking in Atlanta, Georgia. Chong’s harrowing tale of slavery and survival was featured in the award-winning film Eden, released in 2013.
Chong is a joyous spirit who loves to laugh and has a fondness for Winnie the Pooh. A woman of many talents, she loves to sing, write poetry and sketch. And most importantly, Chong believes just because she has a disability, this does not limit her in any way.
Check out what happened when we caught up with Chong to talk about the fight to #EndSlaveryNow!
What is one fact that every person should know about slavery?
I don’t believe people know the deep-rooted corruption and how it leverages the trafficking movement. If the government truly wanted to emancipate slavery, they have all the power to do so.
How were you able to escape from a life of slavery & what did you decide to do to help others with your experience?
I was trafficked before the public awareness during the mid-1990s in the United States. So, I assumed I was in prostitution and I felt the only way to escape was to rank up to be a Madame and join forces with the traffickers in order to gain trust with them to strategize my escape.
What is the most critical obstacle preventing us from having a slave free world?
Corruption and those in power who allow or orchestrate these operations.
What is the most important lesson you have learned while fighting for freedom?
It takes a lot of time, manpower and real unity. Without these things, we can’t move forward.
Why do you believe the millennial generation will be the one that can end slavery?
I believe the Millennials can bring creative, out of the box ideas and suggestions. They are willing to learn and soak in so much, and that makes it easier to get them involved in a more just America. They may be young, but their enthusiasm to learn to be empowered is so vital.
What does a slave free world look like to you?
As a survivor, this has been so difficult to envision, yet I am still hopeful, especially with recent changes. If we can bring adequate awareness, we can pressure legislation with the voices of the constituents and survivors alike. Unity is the vital part of becoming a slave free world.
What is one thing every reader can start doing right now to help end slavery?
Get involved in survivor led programs and agencies that work alongside survivors. If there isn’t already one, create a group that supports survivors wanting to launch a program or organization. If you can’t financially contribute, be the PR for these grass-root programs, write to corporations asking them to sell fair-trade products, and to hire slave free employees. Write to your congress and state representatives to hold companies accountable that continue this cycle of trafficking on all forms: labor, sex, organ and child exploitation and black market adoption. I am still hopeful as long as you are joining me in this movement.
Profiles In Abolition is an in-depth look at the influencers, innovators & thought leaders in the modern anti-slavery movement. An accompaniment to Millennial Magazine’s ongoing 10-part series exposing modern slavery – a project of the Nexus Global Youth Summit (catch up with Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four & Part Five) – Profiles In Abolition will examine a diverse & inspiring array of advocates whose critical voice must be heard.
Want to learn more from the world’s leading luminaries in the fight to #EndSlaveryNow? Sign up for the Nexus Anti-Slavery Speaker Series, a weekly conference call with the men and women on the front lines of the modern abolition movement! This call is open to the public and everyone is welcome to listen in! Click here to register for free. Then learn more about modern slavery by following Nexus on Twitter, Instagram & Millennial Magazine!