The Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) is located 10 miles north of the Military Demarcation line between North and South Korea. There are over 46,000 North Korea workers in factories of 120 South Korean corporations. Workers have no choice of their employer, where corporations such as Hyundai pay poverty wages of 25-38 cents per hour directly to the North Korea Government. The North Korean Government then takes this pay (typically in US Dollars or Euros) puts up to 45% in its own pocket, and then gives a little to the workers in low value North Korean currency and the rest in chit only good for stores within the KIC. Worker’s rights are non-existent and Hyundai plans to extend the KIC to hire hundreds of thousands of more workers.
Under the weak rules of origin proposed in the South Korea-US FTA, 65% of a product can be made outside of the US or South Korea and still be labeled “Made in the US” or “Made in South Korea.” This includes the sweatshop labor from N. Korea!
Call Rep. McDermott at (206) 553-7170 and ask him if he used his trip to South Korea to negotiate for rules of origin that do not force US manufacturers to compete with sweatshop labor. Also ask him how we can make sure that the trade agreement will HELP not EXPLOIT North Korean workers.