USA is still trading with North Korea despite sanctions

North Korea has exported workers to China, Russia, and countries farther afield for years, but requires them to remit most of their earnings to the North Korean government, which is believed to use the cash to fund its illicit weapons programs.

"Since North Korean media keep saying that the country is strong in spite of USA pressure exerted through sanctions, it can be speculated that the appearance of the returning workers is being directed by the North Korean regime", he said.

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.

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"At Chinese factories, North Korean workers aren't allowed to leave their compounds without permission, and must step from housing to factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders", reports the AP. "The majority work in Russian Federation and China, but Middle Eastern, African, and other European and Asian countries also host North Korean laborers", the report explained. The United States now considers all forms of North Korean labor slave labor. "Many North Korean laborers sent by the government to work overseas under bilateral contracts with foreign governments also face conditions of forced labor ..." That could account for a sizeable portion of its nuclear weapons and missile programmes, which South Korea says has cost well over $1 billion.

John Connelly, president of the largest seafood trade association in the USA, said the National Fisheries Institute was strongly encouraging all of its companies to investigate their supply chains "to ensure that wages to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a unsafe dictator". A Walmart rep says they learned about this whole fiasco in an audit "a year go", and chose to ban Hunchun fish at some indefinite subsequent date. There's no way to say where a particular package ends up, nor what percentage of a factory's products wind up in the U.S.

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

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North Korean workers in China are reportedly making products intended for grocery stores in the United States, including seafood, wood flooring, and sewing garments.

Some U.S. companies had indirect ties to North Korean laborers in Hunchun.

According to a North Korean source with knowledge of the issue, Chinese frontier public security officers in military garb are enforcing thorough inspections and crackdowns on smuggling from the Hwanggumpyong Island area to the Yalu River Estuary near Donggang. Customs records indicate that Chicken of the Sea, owned by Thai Union, did business with sister companies of the Hunchun factories in another part of China.

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