North Korea is well known for its nuclear ambitions. But it is relatively little-known fact that the country is a hidden outsourcing mecca for the international animation industry, producing such well-known movies as The Lion King.
Even while North Korea has been under US-led sanctions that include a ban on commercial trade, several US animated films have allegedly been outsourced to the country, according to Beijing-based businessman Jing Kim, who says he was involved with American animation producer Nelson Shin’s filmmaking business in the Stalinist pariah state.
After seven years of cooperation with North Korea’s state-owned SEK Studio, employing as many as 500 North Korean animators out of its staff of 1,500, and 18 visits to the country, Shin finally completed Empress Chung in 2005, a famous Korean folk tale about a daughter who sacrifices herself to a sea monster to restore her blind father’s eyesight. It was the first cartoon jointly produced by the two Koreas.
Any guesses on how the animators were paid?Â Very predictably:
Kim said he didn’t pay the North Korean artists in person for their work. Rather, he wired US$170,000 to North Korea directly for their 2006 assignments.
If true, this is another example of the outsourcing of slave labor from North Korea.Â