World Media

Chinese authorities crack down on North Korean smuggling with checkpoints

Chinese authorities crack down on North Korean smuggling with checkpoints

Despite working in conditions that are effectively modern-day slavery, the jobs in China are "highly coveted" by North Koreans.

It's hard to make a buck in North Korea, so the country sends workers overseas, requiring them to send at least 70% of their salaries back to the North Korean government.

Workers at the plant are not allowed to leave the compounds without permission and have no access to telephones or email. South Korea estimates that the nuclear program is worth more than $1 billion.

United Nations sanctions prevent North Korea from obtaining work permits for new workers abroad, but do nothing to constrict the workforce already overseas.

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AP tracked such products to the US, Canada, Germany and elsewhere in the European Union. Some 3,000 North Koreans are believed to work in the area.

For now, involved companies are starting their own investigations, while some already closed deals with suppliers, AP said.

The workers wake up each morning on metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories, North Koreans outsourced by their government to process seafood that ends up in American stores and homes. The AP says about 3,000 are now employed at seafood-packing facilities in Hunchun, a northern China city just a few miles from the North Korean and Russian borders. North Korean slave labor was reportedly used in Russian Federation to build stadiums in Russian Federation.

At some factories, laborers worked hunched over tables as North Korean political slogans blasted from loudspeakers.

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Shipping records show more than 100 cargo containers of seafood were sent to the US and Canada this year from the factories where North Koreans were working in China, including packages of snow crab, salmon fillets and squid rings.

One importer, The Fishin' Company in Munhall, Pennsylvania, said it has now cut ties with Hunchun processors and got its last shipment this summer. The products were sold under the brand names of Walmart and Sea Queen, a house brand of Aldi.

"Combatting forced labor is a complex problem that no one company, industry, or government can tackle alone", she said, adding Wal-Mart was working with industry groups, governments, other retailers and NGOs to "create lasting, sustainable change".

Yesterday, the Associated Press's ace fish-scandal-reporting team dropped another investigative report that's going to ruin your appetite for seafood.

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