North Korean Workers Wear 'Brave Face' on Forced Return From China

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

In response to the investigation, Senate leaders said on Wednesday that the U.S. needs to keep products made by North Koreans out of the United States and get China to refuse to hire North Korean workers. As much as 70 percent of their pay is taken by the North Korean government, the article said.

Securing North Korea's missile launchers and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sites would likely be a chief priority for China in the event of a major crisis involving its communist neighbour, analysts say, although Beijing so far is keeping mum on any plans. The United States now considers all forms of North Korean labor slave labor. "We can spot many North Korean workers at Dandong Station and the immigration office waiting to go home".

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

"This is a state-sponsored scheme to export folks who are in bonded labor", Luis CdeBaca, former USA ambassador for human trafficking issues, told the AP.

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.

Companies are asked to voluntarily send back North Korean workers hired on or after that date, and their failure to do so will be subject to additional penalty charges, the sources said. "We can hypothesise that they might, but, as the observation goes, those who know don't say and those who say probably don't know", he said.

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".

"While we understand that hiring North Korean workers may be legal in China", he said, "we are deeply concerned that any seafood companies could be inadvertently propping up the despotic regime". "It's supporting a repressive regime". New U.N. sanctions bar countries from expanding their North Korean workforce. "Until early this year, more than 20,000 North Koreans worked in Dandong".

German supermarket chain Aldi, which the article said also has imported seafood from Hunchun factories employing North Koreans, did not respond to questions from AFP.

China ordered a stricter screening process for new visa issuance for North Korean workers while prohibiting visa extensions in mid-September. And it's up to corporations to be responsible for their own supply chains.

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

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