Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern slavery. Official estimates from agencies monitoring this scourge note that nearly 800,000 people are taken over international borders every year, largely for sexual exploitation. We usually think of young girls beaten and abused in faraway places like Eastern Europe, Asia, or Africa. But sex trafficking is taking place in cities and towns, both large and small, throughout America. It has become the fastest growing business of organized crime and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world.
Eden is based on the true story of Cong Kim, a teenager born in South Korea and raised in America, who was kidnapped and had to struggle to survive in a sex slave operation. In the film directed by Megan Griffiths, who co-wrote the screenplay with Richard B. Phillips, Jamie Chung stars as Hyun Jae. In 1994, she is working in a New Mexico gift shop run by her parents. During a night out with friends she is picked up in a bar by a young man. He kidnaps her and delivers her into the hands of sex traffickers who drug her and steal her identification papers.
Hyun Jae, renamed Eden by her kidnappers, finds herself in large storage unit center where dozens of other girls like her are imprisoned and forced to work as call girls. This profitable operation is run by Bob Gault (Beau Bridges), a United States marshal whose assistant Vaughan (Matt O'Leary) takes a shine to Eden. She realizes that escape in nearly impossible and the only way to survive is to hook up with this drug addict and drive his van.
Eden enables us to feel the fear and the despair of young women forced into prostitution. Those who try to escape are tortured; those who reach the age of 20 are considered of no value to the sex operation. This compelling indie film joins a handful of others that have brought sex trafficking out of the darkness and into the light where we can see its horrific and terrifying consequences for young women.