Prisoners in North Korean camps forced to produce more for the Chinese

Clothing items are sold to Chinese companies. Using forced labour in concentration camps reduces the risks of spreading COVID-19. Faced with the economic crisis, Kim Jong-un orders “important revolutionary measures" in agriculture. United Nations slams North Korea’s crimes against humanity.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - North Korean authorities are forcing prisoners in concentration camps to produce more, this according to the Daily NK, a paper based in Seoul linked to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

According to the paper’s sources, the boost in production in North Korean camps is part of a series of agreements between Kim Jong-un’s regime and Chinese companies.

The camps are located in Kaechon and Paekto, where North Korea’s Social Security Ministry carried out several inspections this month to check production levels. The finished products include clothing, wigs and false eyelashes.

Production resumed after the arrival of raw materials from China, previously blocked by COVID-19 restrictions. As soon as the pandemic broke out, North Korea closed its borders, including that with China.

Forced labour makes it possible to manufacture export goods in a closed and controlled environment, thus reducing the risk of spreading infections.

North Korea is politically and economically dependent on China. In 2019, bilateral trade represented 95.4 per cent of its total foreign trade; in 2007, it was 67.1 per cent.

Due to international sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, Beijing has become the Kim regime’s only true trading partner.

To overcome the current economic crisis, marked by a chronic food shortages, Kim announced “important revolutionary measures” to promote agricultural development.

Kim's order came during the 4th plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party, currently underway. The party has been in power since the end of the Second World War.

The international community, with the United Nations in the lead, has repeatedly condemned the exploitation of inmates by the North Korean government, which is tantamount to slavery, a crime against humanity.

According to available information, North Korea currently operates five labour camps for political prisoners: four run by the Ministry of State Security, and one by the Ministry of Social Security. There are also 16 re-education facilities.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of detainees in the country has grown significantly, the Daily NK reports.

Many North Koreans have ended up in the regime's concentration camps for breaking quarantine rules, deemed a threat to the country’s economy.