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Is your salmon habit supporting North Korea?

(BUSINESS NEWS) As working conditions and business reports come to light, it’s important to know where your salmon is being supplied from.

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I love salmon. You probably love it, too. Sophisticated enough for a fancy dinner with the boss, but easy enough for a quick tasty meal at home, salmon may have become a healthy staple in your diet, as it has become for me.

However, according to a new report conducted by the Associated Press, some of what you spend on that flaky delicacy (which we all know, can be a lot) is being sent back into North Korea, ostensibly supporting the funding of nuclear weapons.

The investigation found that the North Korean government has been sending its workers into factories worldwide, notably numerous seafood processing plants in China, who then export their fish to the U.S. as well as other countries worldwide.

The catch here, is that these North Korean workers are required to sign contracts which bind them to these plants for two to three years with no way out. They are forced to work hard conditions, with less sick days and days off than their Chinese counterparts.

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These North Korean workers are paid similar wages to what the Chinese workers make, but anywhere from 50-70% of the money they make is sent back to the North Korean government.

Despite all that, workers are forced to work shifts up to twelve hours long, six days a week, sometimes only bringing home $90 per month.

Aside from the detestable work conditions and the manner in which it is forced upon North Koreans, the worry here could be that the American public is putting money straight into North Korean hands by buying this seafood shipped in from overseas.

After researching the trade records and interviews, the AP found at least three seafood processors that ship to the U.S. and employ North Korean workers.

These companies reportedly sent more than 100 cargo containers, each containing 2,000 tons of fish to the U.S. and Canada this year alone. Among the American distributors that are importing this fish from China, one company, The Fishin’ Company, assured AP that they have cut ties with the processors who have North Koreans in their employ.

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However, that fish may stay in the supply chain for over a year, they say, which wouldn’t really matter much considering the purchase has already been made.

The latest says that U.S. officials are working to encourage companies to examine their supply chains, doing more research into where their product is truly coming from and, subsequently, where their money is going once the purchase has been made.

John Connelly of the National Fisheries Institute told AP, “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.”

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Written By

Will hails from Northern California, earned a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University, and now calls Austin, Texas home where he works at a tech startup. He likes riding his bike an ungodly amount of miles and his favorite aesthetic is an open road. If you see him around he'll likely be reading a classic American novel and drinking a Topo Chico.

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