Seafood products processed by North Korean workers in China have found their way into major U.S. stores, such as Walmart and Aldi, according to a recent report from The Associated Press.
The workers, outsourced to Chinese factories by the North Korean government, receive only a fraction of their salary, as Pyongyang despot Kim Jong Un takes as much as 70 percent of their earnings to fund his dictatorship, including his increasingly unsteady nuclear program.
This means Americans who have bought salmon from Walmart or Aldi may have inadvertently funded North Korea’s nuclear weapon program.
Some of the seafood comes in generic packaging that allows it to be resold or repackaged under various names or purchased by restaurants. Some comes “prepackaged from China bearing the Walmart brand or an Aldi house brand called Sea Queen,” according to Eater.
The purchases also allow a form of “modern day slavery” to continue, as the North Korean workers are essentially enslaved. They sleep on metal bunk beds in dormitories, have zero privacy, must travel to the factory in pairs or groups, cannot leave their compounds without permission and have no access to outside communication, according to the AP.
John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, said he had been encouraging the group’s companies to investigate its supply chains “to ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a dangerous 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 could also be a federal violation, as a law signed by President Donald Trump in August prohibits American companies from importing products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world, the AP reported.
Those who disregard that law are helping North Korea overcome sanctions placed on the regime, as the outsourced workers bring in an estimated $200 million to $500 million each year to Pyongyang.
That might be worth keeping in mind on the next seafood shopping trip.
How can we prevent products made by North Korean workers from being sold in the U.S.?