Statement of Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea at the hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission entitled “North Korea’s Forced Labor Enterprise: A State-Sponsored Marketplace in Human Trafficking," April 29, 2015
Good afternoon, Chairman Pitts. On behalf of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, I would like to express great appreciation for inviting me to speak with you today about North Korea’s forced labor enterprise and its state sponsorship of human trafficking. It is an honor and a privilege to have an opportunity to discuss these issues with you today.
North Korea’s “Royal Palace Economy”
North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and other military provocations have continued to threaten international peace and security and challenge U.S. foreign and security policy. The Kim regime’s ruthless prevention and suppression of dissent among its population, isolation from the outside world, and denial of fundamental human rights have all worked to undermine peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile, the “royal palace economy” (a term coined by HRNK non-resident fellow Kim Kwang-jin) generating hard currency for North Korea’s leaders has continued to enable three generations of Kims to stay in power through, in part, exploitation of its people sent to work overseas. North Korea’s exportation of tens of thousands of workers to foreign countries is an important part of the hard currency generating apparatus employed to sustain the Kim regime and (relatively) one of its more transparent examples of clear human rights violations against its people. Understanding this and the other building blocks of the “royal palace economy” will enable a better discernment of the reasons behind the longevity of the regime. It will also allow for the preparation of more effective sanctions to address the security and human rights challenges the regime poses, thereby improving the human rights situation of North Koreans.
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