Taking as its starting point the death of North Korean welder in a Polish shipyard some years ago, Vice has released its investigation into the murky world of what it claims is forced labour taking place in Europe.
Two Vice filmmakers have used documents and interviews to establish that North Korean workers are working under conditions that constitute forced labour, according to the UN International Labour Organisation’s definitions. Workers are thought to be able keep something in the region $80-160 per month for themselves, in return for 11-hour days, six day-a-week working regime with a holiday every third year.
Vice found that a Polish trading company with alleged links to the North Korean regime is supplying labour to agriculture and construction businesses in Poland – and also to Polish shipyards shipyards that supply Danish, Dutch, German, UK and Norwegian customers. The significant profits generated by what is believed to be a straightforward state-run business venture are believed to be channelled direct to the upper echelons of the North Korean establishment.
Vice’s Cash for Kim documentary also exposes a web of confusion, with Polish authorities unable to be certain of whether workers granted visas and work permits are from North or South Korea, and a four-month delay by the European Commission in answering a Parliamentary question on the subject, resulting in the admission that the EU has no knowledge of the presence people working under these conditions in Europe.