"I could feel the tremendous fear he was going through. The fear that something horrible would happen to his family because he did not return to North Korea," says Kati Piri, a Dutch Social Democratic politician and a member of the European Parliament (MEP).

She was talking about a former North Korean worker who appeared at a parliamentary hearing to tell his story as well as those of others like him who are forced by the East Asian nation's regime to work under harsh, inhumane conditions in foreign countries.

The ex-worker wanted to remain anonymous. That's why his name was not revealed nor were pictures taken at the hearing, Piri said. Nevertheless, his story raises stark questions about the issue of forced labor in Europe.

It is no secret that Pyongyang sends North Koreans to work abroad and pockets huge sums of their salaries. In this way, the isolated nation's ruling clique gets hold of much-needed foreign currency.

A UN report released in October 2015 estimated the number of North Koreans working in slave-like conditions in foreign nations to be about 50,000. It noted that the workers were employed in industries such as construction, mining, logging and textile manufacturing.

Their forced labor generated up to two billion euros for Pyongyang, stated the UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman. Likewise, British human rights organization, European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK), released a report in September 2015 on the same issue, pointing to EU member states Malta and Poland as destination countries for forced laborers.


Has the EU done anything to stop laborers from North Korea from being exploited in Poland? There's an article written in 2016 that claims that North Korean workers are being exploited in Poland and that the EC and the EU are both turning a blind eye to the exploitation claiming that the responsibility for ensuring good working conditions fall on the member countries. I was wondering if anything was done to resolve this issue by the EU or EC since then.

  • 2
    Is this relevant today? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (UN) Resolution 2375, passed on 11 September 2017, limited North Korean crude oil and refined petroleum product imports; banned joint ventures, textile exports, natural gas condensate and liquid imports; and banned North Korean nationals from working abroad in other countries.[16] Feb 8 at 0:12
  • I read that in 2019, the UN put some sanctions against North Korean laborers, but UN members didn't 100% comply with the sanctions.
    – Sayaman
    Feb 8 at 1:07
  • Then maybe you or an answerer can look into the EU and Res 2375, but "UN Members" isn't the same thing as Poland. It is certainly a good Q, if Poland still does it in 2024, 7 years later. But does it? Feb 8 at 1:52
  • In 2021, Poland was North Korea's third largest trade partner, so I am not even sure countries are respecting those UN sanctions.
    – Sayaman
    Feb 8 at 1:56
  • ok, bears asking about then. but the Q might benefit from more recent supporting info. Feb 8 at 6:44

1 Answer 1


From the report submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) from Warsaw’s UN delegation in December 26, 2019:

The number of North Korean nationals working in Poland is now down zero

Hence this practice is no longer legal or official. There is illegal work everywhere but I guess these workers would be deported if caught.

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