United States is still trading with North Korea despite sanctions

Yu Vongkiatajorn

Purchasing seafood in some American stores may inadvertently fund North Korean nuclear weapons

Workers exported by North Korea are exploited for $200 million to $500 million per year that goes back to the regime. South Korea estimates that the nuclear program is worth more than $1 billion. The United States now considers all forms of North Korean labor slave labor.

Shipping records showed that more than 100 cargo containers with more than 2,000 tons of salmon, snow crab and other fish were sent to the United States and Canada from factories where North Koreans worked, AP said.

"At Chinese factories, North Korean workers aren't allowed to leave their compounds without permission, and must step from housing to factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders", reports the AP.

John Connelly, president of the largest seafood trade association in the USA, said the National Fisheries Institute was strongly encouraging all of its companies to investigate their supply chains "to ensure that wages to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator".

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Besides seafood, AP found North Korean labourers making wood flooring and sewing garments in Chinese factories.

Other countries are reportedly following suit as the US ramps up its pressure campaign, but North Korean forced labor practices occur in country as well. "It's supporting a repressive regime".

"It is unbelievable that they would be going home in bright outfits with these smiles on their faces", RFA's source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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

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At some factories, laborers worked hunched over tables as North Korean political slogans blasted from loudspeakers. North Korean slave labor was reportedly used in Russian Federation to build stadiums in Russian Federation. Then a minder arrived, ordering: "Don't talk to him!" Ltd., distributed globally by Ocean One Enterprise; Yantai Dachen Hunchun Seafood Products, and Yanbian Shenghai Industry & Trade Co. Ltd.

In late September, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 executives, targeting North Koreans working as representatives of North Korean banks in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates. The other Chinese companies didn't comment.

One importer, The Fishin' Company in Munhall, Pennsylvania, said it has now cut ties with Hunchun processors and got its last shipment this summer. And it's up to corporations to be responsible for their own supply chains.

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