NKorean workers prep seafood going to United States stores, restaurants

Oct 07, 2017, 00:21
NKorean workers prep seafood going to United States stores, restaurants

North Korean workers make clothing and numerous other products in Chinese factories.

It is a federal crime to import North Korean products into the United States no matter where they are made, according to a new law signed by President Trump over the summer.

A rather unusual Associated Press report explaining how fish produced in China and sold in the US may be generating economic support for North Korea's weapons programs offered rare insight into North Korean slavery. There's no way to say where a particular package ends up, nor what percentage of a factory's products wind up in the U.S.

It's also claimed that North Korean workers aren't allowed to leave their compounds in the Chinese factories without permission or their North Korean minders.

The workers are paid a fraction of their salaries, while as much as 70 percent is taken by the North Korean government.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, urged its 300 members, including the largest seafood importers in the USA, to "ensure that wages go to the workers and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator".

Those industries also export to the U.S., but AP did not track specific shipments except for seafood.

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Every Western company involved that responded to AP's requests for comment said forced labor and potential support for North Korea's weapons program were unacceptable in their supply chains. Some of those companies have already cut off those parts of their supply chains, others said they are investigating the matter. "It's supporting a repressive regime".

China's implementation of new sanctions punishing North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs is now "literally expelling North Korean workers", a resident of China's border city of Dandong told RFA's Korean Service on Wednesday.

North Korean workers first arriving in China don't wear portrait badges of former national leaders Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, RFA's source said.

The report states that seafood from the Hunchun plants was sold to Walmart and also under the Sea Queen brand, which is sold exclusively at Aldi supermarkets.

A worker stacks crates at the Yanbian Shenghai company which hires some North Korean workers to process seafood in Hunchun.

"Combatting forced labor is a complex problem that no one company, industry, or government can tackle alone", she said.

The budget supermarket said its United Kingdom stores are not linked to the factories, adding the chain "is committed to human rights and fair labour practices and they expect their business partners to comply with laws and regulations".

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