Human trafficking in North Korea is difficult to track since North Korea is the most secretive nation on earth. It is also difficult to identify North Korea’s commitment to combat the trafficking of human beings. The country is the source of victims of trafficking aided by the government’s bilateral agreement on labor export policies. The country is categorized in tier 3 because it shows no deliberate effort to combat trafficking. On the contrary, the country practices forced labor for its citizens on its prison camps with inhuman living conditions. The main form of trafficking in North Korea is forced labor with estimates of 50,000 of the country’s citizens trafficked to Europe and Asia, especially in China and Russia.


North Korea does not prohibit any form of human trafficking. With no laws on the trafficking of humans, there is no prosecution for human traffickers in North Korea. The government does not provide any data on its efforts to fight this form of trafficking. This has made it hard to obtain information on the training of the authorities on dealing with traffickers of human beings as well as their victims. 

There are no known, deliberate efforts by the government of North Korea to protect the victims of trafficking. In fact, the government does not permit any NGO to operate in the country. There are laws that declare the trafficking of human beings illegal. The government imprisons the victims of trafficking and even, in some cases, executes them.

Without any law on the trafficking of individuals, North Korea has not made any effort to prevent the vice. There are no awareness campaigns to sensitize potential victims on the dangers of the vice, and those who leave the country without government approval are considered defectors. The country does not provide any training to it’s officials and authorities on how to prevent the trafficking of persons. It is also reported that it’s officials and authorities assault trafficked victims in prison camps through torture and sexual abuse.

On recommendations, the country should end the use of forced labor in prison camps. It should also end the punishment of repatriated victims and recognize that the trafficking of human beings is a crime that requires it’s attention. The country should also collaborate with other countries where its laborers are sent to work in order to ensure that they receive fair wages and become a party to the TIP protocol.

In summary, North Korea is among the worst performing nations in terms of combating trafficking of human beings.  The country has no law to prevent human trafficking. It has not recognized human trafficking as a crime that requires immediate attention. To combat the vice, the government should end forced labor and enact necessary legislation to prevent trafficking.

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