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North Koreans assembling clothes for leading U.S brands in China

By
Elizabeth Shim
Chinese clothing manufacturers are employing North Korean laborers, and their products are being exported to the United States, Europe and Japan, according to a source in China. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Chinese clothing manufacturers are employing North Korean laborers, and their products are being exported to the United States, Europe and Japan, according to a source in China. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

SEOUL, May 17 (UPI) -- North Korean laborers are stitching clothes for U.S. labels like Calvin Klein, Burberry and Levi's in China, according to a report.

A source in northeastern China told Radio Free Asia a large number of North Koreans are working for Chinese manufacturers with factories not far from the North Korea border.

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One of the Chinese firms, Mei Dao Garment Company Limited, hires hundreds of North Koreans, according to the source.

Mei Dao began employing North Korean personnel, 54 in total, between January and July 2012.

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The source also said in April 2015 the Chinese business began collaborating with North Korea's Ryugyong Mokdan Trading Company to build the Dandong Miryong Garment Company.

Another plant located near the Chinese border city of Dandong, the Phoenix Gold Company Limited, employs about 1,200 workers, and 800 of those laborers are from North Korea, the source said.

Chinese subcontractors hire North Koreans because they provide low-wage labor.

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Another source at the China-North Korea border told RFA Chinese manufacturers that receive "a lot of orders" from the United States, Europe and Japan, are hiring North Korean workers in significant numbers.

The orders are from popular U.S. and other multinational brands.

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North Korean workers aren't necessarily concentrated in the apparel industries.

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A third source in China said a company in Hunan Province that supplies corporations like Apple and Nokia with smartphone glass includes North Koreans in its workforce, the source said.

A South Korean think tank has estimated North Korea deploys at least 50,000 people overseas. Most are involuntary laborers who earn up to $300 million for the Kim Jong Un regime, according to the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights in Seoul.

Workers often retain 10 percent or less of their income, after giving the rest to the regime, NKDB has stated.

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