Posted on

Thank you, Mr. President,

I would like to thank Special Rapporteur Darusman and everybody involved for their work and interest in improving human rights conditions in North Korea.

The very existence of political prisoner camps and public executions show the alarming state of human rights in North Korea, and the need for positive change. Today, I want to draw your attention to those North Koreans sent to work abroad to earn foreign currency for the government, deprived of their basic rights under what amounts to state-sponsored slavery. I can speak to this from my own experience, since my father was a North Korean logger in Russia’s Far East.

Nowadays, around twenty thousand North Koreans are working in Russia. In North Korea, people must give a bribe, around three hundred dollars, to officials to get a job overseas. The workers’ family is held hostage in North Korea to secure his obedience abroad. North Korean workers must find their own employment and remit between five hundred and one thousand dollars to the North Korean government every month, resulting in personal earnings of only four hundred fifty dollars in two years. While abroad, workers are forced to attend state-run political education classes every week to continue their indoctrination. In August 2004, a worker who criticized the North Korean government while drunk was arrested by agents from the State Political Security Department. They broke his arms and knees to prevent him from escaping, and then repatriated him. Still, North Koreans prefer to work abroad because these are better conditions than in North Korea. With the approval of the Russian government, North Korean officials remit workers’ wages in the form of bulk cash back to North Korea. This is in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1718, since this money, amounting to five hundred million US dollars each year, is suspected to support the development of nuclear weapons in the DPRK.

Therefore, addressing this issue is important both to maintain international security and to ensure the people of North Korea can enjoy the basic human rights they deserve.

Thank you.

By: Marzuki Darusman