The president of the NK Watch, a human rights group in Seoul, stated that North Korea is exploiting their labor and salaries to fatten the private coffers of Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un is suspected of using the money from the overseas workers to buy luxury goods for his elite followers and to finance the recent building boom in Pyongyang. A 2012 study by the North Korea Strategy Center estimated that 60,000 to 65,000 North Koreans were working in more than 40 countries. These workers are bringing in millions to the state and the workers see very little of it. The workers work 12 hour days, very few days off a year, and sometimes only receive 10 percent of their promised pay or none at all. The NK Watch has collected testimonies of 13 former North Korean workers who have escaped to South Korea. These testimonies will be used to support a petition to the United Nations asking for an investigation into what they call “state-sponsored slavery.” This petition is set to be filed next month. There has never been an official investigation into the practice so the NK Watch is appealing to the United Nations to hopefully build onto a report from last year that documented the human rights abuse in North Korea. North Korea is claiming these reports are false and part of an American –sponsored effort to overthrow their government.
Human rights have always been an issue in North Korea. Someone needs to help the people in North Korea realize that this is not the way they are supposed to be treated. Many of them are working hard to try to put food on their family’s tables but in reality their families are hardly getting anything. Some of the workers children sometimes did not get fed. One worker claimed that he worked 21 hours a day, sometimes in minus 20 degree weather, and only got $160 in the three years he worked there. No one can live off of this kind of salary. Something needs to be done for these workers to get the money they deserve for the work they are doing.