North Korea exports labelled “made in China”, and it’s legal

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A North Korean waitress cleans the floor of a North Korean restaurant in Dandong, Liaoning province, China, on Sept 12, 2016. Source: Reuters/Thomas Peter

Last year, Australian sportswear brand Rip Curl made a public apology in 2016 after it was exposed that some of its ski gear had been made in one of North Korea’s factories — some of the world’s worst places to work, whose profits are generated through exploitative regimes.

The exported clothes had been labelled “made in China” before it reached the retailors worldwide. Each piece was sold at typically US$300+.

Till now, not much has been done with those misleading labels and the unauthorized outsourcing of production.

Facebook post of public apology by Rip Curl

Chinese textile firms are increasingly making use of North Korean factories for their cheaper labour across the border, traders and businesses in the border city of Dandong, the Chinese border city where the majority of North Korea trade passes through, according to Reuters.

All factories in North Korea are state-owned and workers are being paid between US$75 and $160 per month, compared with US$450-US$750 in China.

Interestingly, the UN sanctions, introduced to punish North Korea for its missile and nuclear practices, do not include any bans on textile exports.

“We take orders from all over the world,” said one Korean-Chinese businessman in Dandong.

“We will ask the Chinese suppliers who work with us if they plan on being open with their client — sometimes the final buyer won’t realize their clothes are being made in North Korea. It’s extremely sensitive,” he said.

Textiles were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totalling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Total exports from North Korea in 2016 rose 4.6 percent to $2.82 billion.

The latest U.N. sanctions, agreed earlier this month, have completely banned coal exports now.

Just last week, China’s Commerce Ministry issued on Monday an order banning imports of coal, iron ore, lead concentrates and ore, lead and sea food from North Korea, effective from Tuesday, as Beijing moved to implement United Nations sanctions announced earlier this month.

The sanctions also ban countries from increasing current numbers of foreign North Korean workers, many of whom are already employed in Dandong’s factories.

“It’s a hassle to hire North Korean workers though,” a Korean-Chinese businesswoman told Reuters. “You need to have the right set-up. Their living space has to be completely closed off, you have to provide a classroom where they can take classes every day.

“They bring their own doctor, nurse, cook and teachers who teach them North Korean ideology every day.”

The sanctions also ban countries from increasing current numbers of foreign North Korean workers, many of whom are already employed in Dandong’s factories.

“It’s a hassle to hire North Korean workers though,” a Korean-Chinese businesswoman told Reuters. “You need to have the right set-up. Their living space has to be completely closed off, you have to provide a classroom where they can take classes every day.

“They bring their own doctor, nurse, cook and teachers who teach them North Korean ideology every day.”

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists reportedly continue to flood into North Korea, undeterred by escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

“We’re curious. We want to see how they live,” Xu Juan said to Reuters on Thursday before crossing the Yalu River, which marks the border between the two countries. Xu was travelling with friends and family from Hangzhou, in eastern China.

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13 COMMENTS

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      The globalists are socialists by nature. They see themselves as the elites setting the policies of the world. The very few controlling the many. This is the very definition of communism. You can call it by any name – oligarchy, authoritarianism, meritocracy (yes meritocracy), socialism, fascism. At the end it is still the few controlling the many.

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    North Korea almost died when the USSR collapsed. If China goes they’re screwed. But then again, the US should just mind its own business. Its a chicken and egg thingy. DPRK says its protecting itself from being bullied as US is being aggressive. And for those who say Kim shldnt have a nuke, the US, Russia, India, China and Israel have nukes to “defend” itself from aggression. Now who are we to say that the leader is a madman? The US has much more blood on its hands than any other country in the world. Israel bullies Palestinians all the time! China is provoking ASEAN with the islands etc. So how? Bomb all of them? The only way out is through dialogue and for the US to get lost. They are not the worlds policeman. Leave it to the UN.

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      @ Mary Saroja Reynard: North Korea is a PARANOID nation! The Americans and South Koreans will be making training/security patrols in close proximity to them soon. This is the norm and done as a scheduled action. This is what makes the NK jittery! China is presently the ally of NK and indispensable to the survival of NK. The point: NK is fearful of her existence! The reason that they are Defiant and going ALL out to acquire missiles and nuclear weapons to PROTECT themselves! The USA has the power to engage NK and together with China, South Korea, Japan and the UN if need be and come to an Agreement For PEACE. But, will the USA still want to go for Regime Change? The question that needs asking: ‘What is it that will satisfy the USA’? The economic sanctions against North Korea by the UN which include Russia and China will SURELY hit NK hard. NO need for war! Negotiations or Diplomacy should be The Way to resolve the North Korean Crisis. At this time of writing the situation is still tense and uncertain. Time will tell if the USA and North Korea can sign a Peace Treaty thus effectively bringing closure to a long running stand-off.

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      The reality is we have 2 egocentric maniacs heading their countries.
      N Koreans are living in fear and Americans in chaos. China can defuse the situation and help the N Koreans live without fear.
      I heard China is promoting N Korean products through their channels passing them off as Chinese. So much for sanctions. The Americans are using Trump to serve a purpose, they will handle him when the time is right.
      China is and will use N Korea to their advantage, little fat Kim is their puppet.

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    Still wondering why NK need nuclear weapons. Defend against US? Why US want to attack a non nuclear NK? Make no sense. Likely, a hatchet man for a big bro.

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