U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - North Korea

North Korea (Tier 3)

The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea is a source country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Thousands of North Korean men, women, and children are forced to work and often perish under conditions of slavery inside the country. Thousands of North Koreans, pushed by deteriorating conditions in the country, become economic migrants who are subjected to conditions of debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, and/or forced labor upon arrival in a destination country, most often the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.). The illegal status of North Koreans in other nations increases their vulnerability to trafficking schemes and sexual and physical abuse. North Korean women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriages with Chinese men while North Korean men are trafficked for forced labor. North Koreans forcibly returned from China are sent to labor prison camps operated by the government.

The Government of North Korea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making efforts to do so. The government does not recognize trafficking as a problem and imposes slave-like labor conditions on prisoners and repatriated North Koreans.


During the reporting period, North Korea publicly executed three men for trafficking North Korean women into China. There were no reports that authorities investigated the trafficking of North Korean women for sale into brothels and marriages with Chinese men. The North Korean Government continued to carry out trafficking abuses, particularly forced labor. There were no reports of prosecutions of corrupt officials related to trafficking.


The Government of North Korea made no effort to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period; reporting instead indicated that the government punished victims. Press reports indicated that nine women who were trafficked and returned from China were sentenced to prison terms of two years to 18 years. The government sent all North Koreans who were forcibly returned from China, including trafficking victims, to forced-labor prison camps where torture and public executions are commonplace. There are also reports that North Koreans who were forcibly returned from China are detained in re-education camps.


The North Korean Government does not recognize trafficking as a problem, and there were no reports of any government anti-trafficking efforts. Due to the lack of prevention efforts, there have been reports of an increase in the trafficking of North Korean women along the Chinese-North Korean border. The government has not taken steps to warn its citizens about the kidnapping of North Korean women by Chinese or North Korean men along the border who prey on unaccompanied women.


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