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North Korean Slave Labor in Russia

John on March 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

Claudia Rosett has a must read description of North Korean logging camps in the Russian wilderness:

In 1994 I was working as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Moscow when a story turned up in the Russian press, saying that North Korea was running lumber camps in remote areas of Russia.

In Moscow, Russian officials confirmed to me that they had two big logging operations manned and policed by North Koreans. Both were in the Russian Far East, in areas once part of Stalin’s old gulag. One was based in a place called Tynda. The other was headquartered in a town called Chegdomyn, straddling a rail spur that ran a few hundred miles north from the major city of Khabarovsk, one of the main stops on the Trans-Siberian railroad.

These camps were the legacy of a 1967 Brezhnev-era deal between the Soviet Union and the North Korean regime of Kim Il Sung. The Soviets supplied the equipment and the forests, in rough terrain where during the long winters the temperature dives far below zero. North Korea supplied–and supervised–the lumberjacks. The two governments sold the lumber abroad and divvied up the profits.

That’s just the beginning. The upshot is that the camps are still there. In fact, Google earth shows one of the cities Rosett visited back in ’94. Chegdomyn is criss-crossed with railroad tracks and several spurs lead to what are obviously lumber mills:

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Here is the comprable facility just outside Tynda:

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Claudia doesn’t say but I wonder where all this lumber goes. And I wonder how many children live in these camps.

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Category: Secularism & Socialism |

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