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Exclusive: False eyelashes sold in China are assembled in North Korea

Various types of false eyelashes assembled in North Korean prisons are being packaged in China and sold online, Daily NK has learned.

When Daily NK sent a source inside North Korea photos of various types of false eyelashes recently sold on Chinese online retailer Pinduoduo, the source confirmed that the false eyelashes are assembled in workshops in various North Korean prisons.

“When I showed the photos to a correctional officer at a prison workshop, he told me that the eyelashes are currently being made by inmates at his prison,” the source said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

According to the source, the Corrections Bureau of North Korea’s Ministry of Social Security has given each prison workshop plans for producing false eyelashes, wigs and costume beards for export. Inmates assembling the products are said to be making more than ten different types of false eyelashes.

The source explained that this year’s quota for the prison workshops is three times higher than last year’s. “As a result, all inmates are being mobilized and told to focus on production,” he said.

Prison officers get cut of the profits

In North Korea, 90% of false eyelashes are assembled by prison inmates, and the other 10% by ordinary people as piecework, according to the source. In other words, most of the false eyelashes North Korea exports to China are the product of forced labor in North Korean prisons.

“The prison managers and supervisors point out that the inmates are there because they have committed crimes against the government, and that this kind of productive work should be considered part of their rehabilitation, rather than work that can be exchanged for money,” the source said.

When the prisons are paid for exporting the eyelashes the inmates have collected, they first give the government the amount due under the set quotas and then distribute the remainder either in cash or in kind to the correctional officers working at the prisons, the source explained.

“All North Korean trade officials wear civilian clothes when dealing with us, so we can’t tell if they are from the Corrections Department of the Ministry of Social Security or not. But given the difficulty of guaranteeing the date of a large shipment of goods, we can assume that such products come from there [a prison],” a Korean-Chinese businessman involved in trade with North Korea in Liaoning Province told Daily NK. He requested anonymity for security reasons.

“We don’t care where they were made. All we care about is whether they were processed there [in North Korea] as required and whether they’re of good quality,” the businessman added.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

February 15, 2024 at 05:37AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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