North Korean Workers May Have Prepared Your Salmon Fillet

Oct 07, 2017, 00:21
North Korean Workers May Have Prepared Your Salmon Fillet

North Korea obtains significant funding for its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs from exports of slave labor overseas.

There's really no way to know, as a consumer, which products are linked to North Korean workers.

Some questionable products include salmon from Walmart or ALDI supermarkets under the brand name "Sea Queen".

The workers, 70 percent of whose salary is taken by North Korea's government, are essentially enslaved-they sleep on "metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories", they must travel to the factory in pairs or groups, they have zero privacy, are not allowed to leave the compounds without permission, and have no access to phones or email.

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Chinese authorities have set up strict checkpoints near the border regions with North Korea in Liaoning Province, Dandong City, including the mobilization of military dogs.

American importers who use North Korean products could potentially find themselves facing criminal charges: Importing products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world is a federal crime, following a new law signed by President Trump in early August.

North Koreans outsourced by their government are preparing seafood in China that ends up in American stores and homes, the report said. The jobs, which are highly sought after by North Korean citizens, can generate an estimated $200 to $500 million a year for the regime.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, the largest seafood trade association in the U.S., told AP his group was urging all of its companies to immediately re-examine their supply chains "to ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator". New U.N. sanctions bar countries from expanding their North Korean workforce.

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Some North Koreans work in Russian Federation or the Middle East, but the majority works in China. Aldi in Australia said it does not source any products from the factories in question.

Especially since, they say, the government of Kim Jong Un keeps most of their pay as it builds its nuclear weapons program. But the AP notes that the seafood could remain in the supply chain for "more than a year".

Wal-Mart spokesman Marilee McInnis said company officials banned their suppliers from getting seafood processed at a Hunchun plant a year ago after an audit revealed potential issues with migrant workers.

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

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Information for this article was contributed by Martha Mendoza, Leonardo Haberkorn, Han Guan Ng, Fu Ting, Kelvin K. Chan, Frank Jordans and Jon Gambrell of The Associated Press.

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