North Korea's Secret Slave Gangs Abroad -

North Korea’s Secret Slave Gangs Abroad

  • Published on
    April 16, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Debt Bondage, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking
Hero Banner

It is believed that around 150,000 North Koreans are sent abroad each year to work, bringing in billions of dollars in income to the North Korean government. The workers have to hand over much of their earnings to a North Korean “captain” in what one worker called “Party Duty.”

For the last two years, an undercover team of journalists with the BBC has been investigating the situation for North Korean laborers sent to China, Russia, and Poland. Most North Korean men were reluctant to speak on camera, though one man who spoke anonymously to a reporter said that “You’re treated like a dog here, and you have to eat dirt.”

“You have to give up being human,” he added.

He also explained that ten years ago the amount of money North Korean laborers had to give to “captains” was 15,000 roubles ($260) a month. Today that amount has doubled.

At one shipyard in Szczecin, Poland, the undercover team posed as a recruitment agency, meeting with the foreman of the nearly 800 North Korean workers who are welders and laborers there. The foreman said that the men are stationed in Poland only to work, though they only take unpaid holidays and will work without breaks when there are deadlines.

The Polish workers at the shipyard, the man explains, “Work eight hours a day and then go home.” The North Korean laborers “are not like the Polish,” he said. “We work as long as we have to.”

The North Korean embassy in Warsaw says that its citizens are working in compliance with EU regulations and Polish law. At the same time, the Polish government claims it has carried out regular inspections and has found no evidence that workers’ earning are being sent back to North Korea.

The former North Korean Deputy Ambassador to the UK, Thae Yong Ho, says even though the small amount of money the North Korean men are able to send home “no doubt helps their families in North Korea,” he argues that this should not be a reason for other countries to drop sanctions against the regime as it continues to develop its nuclear program.

The United Nations passed a resolution in December that would put an end to North Korean laborers being sent abroad, but host countries have been given two years to comply.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kevin Wales
Kevin Wales
5 years ago

Perhap when Donald Trump meets Kim Jong Un, he won’t be able to hold his tongue and bring it up with him.

kevin Fitmaurice-Browntbjmu
kevin Fitmaurice-Browntbjmu
5 years ago

This ‘ investigation ‘ is by the BBC therefore biased and on behalf of the USA

This week

Migrant teens not living the American dream, they’re “living the American nightmare”

An investigative journalism piece from PBS recently uncovered evidence that migrant teens arriving at the U.S. border are being exploited by hiring agencies in the seafood processing sector as a source of cheap labor.   Businesses think child labor = cheap labor  The Public's Radio interviewed more than two dozen migrant teens who described working overnight shifts, killing, cleaning, and weighing crabs. The teens reported they got to sleep for a few

| Monday September 18, 2023

Read more