Americans buying salmon for dinner at Walmart or ALDI may inadvertently have subsidized the North Korean government as it builds its nuclear weapons program, according to an AP investigation.
There's really no way to know, as a consumer, which products are linked to North Korean workers.
The North Korean workers aren't permitted to mix with the Chinese workers in the same factory, and their speech and movements are tightly controlled and monitored. The North Korean government sends workers to countries including China, Poland, Russia, Uruguay, and the Gulf states to work in a variety of industries, then strips them of a portion of their salaries - sometimes up to 70 percent.
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. "Many North Korean laborers sent by the government to work overseas under bilateral contracts with foreign governments also face conditions of forced labor ..."
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.
Every company the AP asked for comment noted that they forbid forced labor.
Chinese city to penalize firms that newly hire N. Korean workers
John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, urged its 300 members to "ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator". Some of those companies have already cut off those parts of their supply chains, others said they are investigating the matter.
Some 3,000 North Koreans are believed to work in the area.
"Instead of making the goods in North Korea and trying to export them, which wouldn't work because of sanctions regime, you export the North Koreans", said Former Ambassador to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca.
Seafood can remain in the supply chain for more than a year.
Aldi said its United Kingdom stores are not linked to the factories.
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.
North Korean workers working in slave-like conditions are preparing seafood found in American restaurants and grocery stores, according to a new investigation from the Associated Press. Thai Union said the sister company they do business with meets all of their fair labor standards, and should not be penalized just because they have the same owner.