Via the Open Thread comes this report that North Korea actually saw a little bit of economic growth last year due to its growing economic ties with China:
The North Korean economy is undergoing changes. In fact, last year there was actually some growth, with GDP increasing .8 percent, versus a .5 percent decline in 2010. The North Korea GDP (about $28 billion, compared to $1,100 billion for South Korea). Thus even with a larger population, the average South Korean has 20 times more income as their northern counterparts. Moreover, income distribution is quite different in the north, where about two-thirds of the population is very poor and very hungry. The other third contains the well-fed ruling elite (whose lavish country estates can be seen via commercial satellite photos) and their supporters (secret police, military officers, bureaucrats) plus the semi-legal merchant class that has been allowed to develop over the last six years to avoid total economic collapse.
The economic decline in 2010 was the result of agricultural (floods) and industrial (massive power shortages) failure. But China came to the rescue by offering to set up mining operations in North Korea and buy billions of dollars-worth of minerals each year. China rebuilt railroads to handle the increased traffic from the remote North Korean mines. In addition, China offered legal jobs for North Koreans in China. The only catch was that the North Korean government took most of the pay. Similar deals have long been used with Russia, but China offered far more jobs under more comfortable conditions. Competition for these jobs is fierce in North Korea, and the government selects those deemed least likely to run away. [Strategy Page]
So basically the economic growth was driven by slave labor because the mines in North Korea are manned by criminals and political prisoners. Additionally the North Koreans expanded their slave labor program to where they have now shipped off workers to China in return for most of their wages being sent back to the government. So I began to wonder if the United Nations has passed any resolutions against slave labor and the government stealing wages. What I found was that the UN has passed a resolution against forced labor but that neither China, Russia, or North Korea has ratified it. South Korea hasn’t ratified it either which is probably what allows them to keep the North Korean quasi-slave labor operation going at Kaesong.
I wonder if there is another country in the world where one of their major areas of economic growth is slave labor?