The export of its workers as what amount to slave labour abroad has long been a lucrative source of funds for the North Korea regime. Now, with extra sensitivity over human rights following last year's devastating UN report, instructions have been issued to these workers as to how they should respond to any inquisitive journalists snooping around. Basically, with violence:
North Korean authorities have ordered North Korean workers and supervisors sent to work in foreign countries to earn hard currency for Pyongyang to comply with new guidelines to prevent reporting of human rights abuse in workplaces, according to a human rights worker.
Authorities in the isolated country recently issued an updated special action guide after the United Nations passed a resolution on North Korean human rights at the end of last year.
North Korea’s security department already has sent the new guidelines to workers in many countries, said Hee Yoon Do, representative of the Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees (CHNK), who received the information from sources inside North Korea....
The action guide that authorities issued orders North Koreans working abroad to prevent foreigners from filming their workplaces and their work methods to document human rights abuses, Do said.
The action guide includes instructions as to what the workers should do if such a situation arises.
“Particularly, when a foreign reporter or human rights activists tries to take a picture or film you, take the camera, camcorder or cell phone from them and smash it,” the document said, according to Do.
“They [North Korean workers] must physically smash them, but also they must pull out internal memory cards such as SD cards and then return the broken cameras or camcorders to their owners,” he said.
The action guide also instructs workers not to hesitate to respond with violence and to gang up on those trying to video or photograph them, he said.
“The action guide even includes a series of details: Do not kill, but inflict a blow or fracture until the person’s body is physically damaged,” Do said.
If a person apologizes while a North Korean is beating him, the North Korean must record his words with a video camera or cellphone and give the recording to the supervisor or manager of the work unit to which they belong, Do said.
“If North Korean workers block activities by preventing or beating a South Korean who is reporter or human rights activist, they will be evaluated according to their actions,” he said. “But if they don’t [follow the guidelines] and pictures or videos appear on the Internet or TV, they’ll be punished.”
Do did not indicate the types of punishments the workers would receive.
North Korea has sent tens of thousands its citizens abroad to work in various factories since the 1980s to raise money for its regime, according to a recent report by Arirang News, an international English-language network based in Seoul.
Many of them endure long hours of physically grueling labor sometimes under the watchful eyes of North Korean minders in Russian logging camps, Chinese factories or Middle Eastern construction sites, where they often tolerate poor work conditions and inhumane treatment. Some workers lack heat and water in sparse and crowded sleeping facilities.
Via One Free Korea:
A caution is in order on the sourcing of the story: it’s attributed to an NGO, the Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees (CHNK), citing “sources inside North Korea.” Although CHNK itself is a respected NGO, we’re in no position to evaluate the reliability and basis of knowledge of CHNK’s own anonymous sources.
If the report can be confirmed, it could have significant policy implications. It would amount to an order by the North Korean government to subnational groups to commit politically motivated violence against non-combatant citizens of other nations on foreign soil. In this case, Pyongyang’s political motivation is to suppress the work of journalists and NGOs, and to preempt policy discussions among governments. It’s far from the most egregious example of North Korean sponsorship of international terrorism — the direction to refrain from murder may even count as progress — but if these orders are attempted or carried out, they could meet the legal standard for the hate that dare not speak its name (at least in Foggy Bottom).