Americans buying salmon from stores like Walmart may have subsidized the North Korean nuclear missile program.
An investigation reported by the Associated Press about seafood and the American consumer supporting "modern day slavery" is a hard one to swallow. Thousands of North Koreans are outsourced as cheap laborers, and their work brings in between $200 million to $500 million a year. Stores like Walmart and ALDI have potentially sold seafood packed by those underpaid workers.
About 3,000 North Korean citizens were shipped off to Hunchun, China, where they are subjected to unimaginable working conditions in seafood packing plants. According to the report, the Hunchun laborers "sleep in metal bunks and work 72-hour weeks processing fish for as little as 46 cents an hour, because Pyongyang keeps somewhere between half and 70 percent of their pay."
The AP tracked over 2,000 tons of seafood from packing plants in China that came into the U.S. just this year. Some of the products have trickled into American distribution through Walmart supplier, The Fishin' Company; Rhode Island company, Sea Trek Enterprises; and ALDI's exclusive brand, Sea Queen. However, the AP said it would be difficult to determine the percentage of products from the Hunchun packing plant that made their way into the U.S.
According to the New York Post, "the workers wake up each morning on metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories, North Koreans outsourced by their government to process seafood that ends up in American stores and homes. Privacy is forbidden. They cannot leave their compounds without permission. They must take the few steps to the factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders ensuring no one strays. They have no access to telephones or email. And they are paid a fraction of their salaries, while the rest — as much as 70 percent — is taken by North Korea’s government. "
So that piece of fish you just bought at Walmart may have helped Kim Jong-un's nuclear agenda.
The president of the National Fisheries Institute, John Connelly, is trying to ensure that wages go to laborers, not dictators. He said:
While we understand that hiring North Korean workers may be legal in China, we are deeply concerned that any seafood companies could be inadvertently propping up the despotic regime.
Those who found the revelation less than appetizing expressed their concerns:
Some just want their cheap fish and don't care about funding nuclear warfare: