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US designates N. Korea as ‘worst human trafficking country’

US designates N. Korea as ‘worst human trafficking country’

Posted June. 17, 2023 08:04,   

Updated June. 17, 2023 08:04


In the "2023 Trafficking in Persons Report" released on Thursday (local time), the U.S. State Department rated North Korea as the worst trafficking country for 21 consecutive years. Korea remained on "Tier 2" for two consecutive years following last year.

The report put North Korea on Tier 3, the lowest level, and estimated 80,000 to 120,000 prisoners to be detained in political prison camps and 20,000 to 100,000 North Korean workers to be working in restaurants and factories in China. It also pointed out that the DPRK government used proceeds from state-sponsored forced labor to fund government operations.

Additionally, North Koreans who cross the border to defect or seek asylum in a third country are subject to a minimum of five years of 'reform through labor.' When North Korean defectors in China are caught by Chinese authorities, they are forcibly returned by China, to detention and interrogation centers, where the government subjects them to forced labor, torture, forced abortions, and sexual abuse.”

China was also rated as Tier 3 along with North Korea. The report raised the issue of forced repatriation to North Korea, saying, “Chinese authorities detain North Korean asylum-seekers and forcibly return some to the DPRK, where they likely faced severe punishment or death.”

“The government did not report identifying any forced labor victims despite reports of the prevalence of labor trafficking among migrant workers in the ROK,” the State Department pointed out regarding South Korea. “The South Korean government is making significant efforts to eradicate human trafficking. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts.”

Since 2001, the United States has published an annual Trafficking in Persons Report that categorizes countries assessed under its laws into Tiers 1-3. Korea received Tier 3 in its first report in 2001, but maintained on Tier 1 until it was classified as Tier 2 last year. In this year's report, Japan, Switzerland, and New Zealand along with South Korea were classified as Tier 2, and 24 countries including North Korea, China, and Russia were classified as Tier 3.