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North Korea is global capital of ‘modern slavery’ with 2.6 million forced laborers, says watchdog group

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, arrives in Singapore on Sunday, June 10, 2018 for a bilateral summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Terence Tan//MCI/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

With some 2.6 million forced laborers, North Korea leads the world in modern day slavery, according to estimates in a new report.

One in 10 people lives under modern slavery in the secretive nation, with the “vast majority being forced to work by the state,” according to the 2018 Global Index Survey. Eritrea and Burundi, which come in second and third on the list respectively, similarly have high rates of government-imposed labor.

“The presence of state-imposed forced labor undermines at best, and at worst renders meaningless, any government response to modern slavery,” according to the report, which notes North Korea has shown the weakest response both at home and abroad.

The report, published annually by the Walk Free Foundation since 2013, says modern slavery includes human trafficking, forced labor, forced or servile marriage and the sale and exploitation of children in addition to slavery itself.

Based on 71,000 interviews in 48 countries, the report estimated 40.3 million men, women and children were victims of modern slavery on “any given day in 2016.” Among them, nearly 25 million were forced into labor while another 15 million were living in a forced marriage.

The Walk Free team this year joined with Leiden Asia Center and the Seoul-based Database Center for North Korea Human Rights to collect data on the country, according to the Washington Post. Researchers were able to sit down with 50 North Korea defectors, all but one of whom said they were subjected to forced labor.

Researchers also concluded that the 10 countries that topped list of modern slavery “indicates a connection between modern slavery and highly repressive regimes. The Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania and South Sudan are also on the list, with Pakistan, Cambodia and Iran rounding out the top 10.

And while the study warns “the prevalence of modern day slavery in highly-developed, high-income countries is higher than previously understood,” the United States has also traditionally been among nations “taking the most action to respond.”

The Global Index survey comes a month after President Donald Trump joined North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore for the first-ever summit between the two countries. Following the sit-down, Trump praised the North Korean dictator, despite repeated and ongoing allegations suggesting the country brutalizes and starves its own citizens.

“He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator,” Trump said in June. “He loves his people and I’m not surprised by that.”

Asked whether he had a message to relay to the people of North Korea, he responded: “I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them. He wants to do right by them and we got along really well. We had a great chemistry.”


© 2018 New York Daily News

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