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  • A recent UN report revealed that a large portion of North Korea’s overall income is brought in through outsourced slave labor.

  • Primarily focused in China and Russia, tens of thousands of North Koreans are forced to work as much as 20 hours a day, while up to 2.3 billion dollars a year in wages are collected by their government.

  • But slavery isn’t the only criminal activity from which North Korea sees profit.

  • So we wanted to know, how exactly does North Korea make money?

  • Well, North Korea’s economy has always seen abysmal growth.

  • According to UN statistics, both North and South Korea started out with a similar GDP in 1970: around $300 dollars per capita.

  • By 2013, South Korea’s GDP had grown by nearly than 9,000%. Meanwhile, North Korea’s GDP only doubled over those 4 decades.

  • But most financial figures surrounding their economy are unknown, as North Korea has one of the most closed economic systems in the world.

  • This is the result of a cultural philosophy known as "juche", or "self-reliance".

  • The enclosed system is one of the ways that North Korea is able to farm out its citizens in what is effectively slavery.

  • While some workers do see payment from their government, it is in the form of nearly worthless local currency, the won, at a massively inflated exchange rate.

  • In North Korea’s black markets, a single US dollar can buy more than 8,000 won, while the government offers an exchange of just 105 won.

  • But besides collecting for slave labor, North Korea also trades in other internationally prohibited activities.

  • One North Korean defector reported that the country has allocated major agricultural zones for growing opium.

  • They have also become well known for producing mass quantities of methamphetamines, the majority of which go to China.

  • A 2008 congressional report found that the increasing drug trade over North Korean borders was strongly linked to government sources.

  • However, later congressional reports disputed this link, pointing to private North Korean drug traffickers as the source instead.

  • North Korea is also a hotbed of counterfeiting.

  • The US has accused their government of producing at least $45 million dollars in very high quality $100 dollar bills, which are known as "supernotes".

  • This counterfeiting operation is thought to net up to $25 million dollars a year in profit.

  • But perhaps the biggest benefactor of North Korea’s economy is actually China.

  • While North Korea has almost no money, they have considerable natural resources.

  • North Korea imported nearly twice as much as they exported with China.

  • But this trade imbalance is actually beneficial to China, because it comes with mining contracts for North Korean coal and zinc.

  • China is also one of the only countries to support North Korea with food, weapons, and energy, in the face of international sanctions.

  • North Korea’s dishonest economic dealings may explain how theyve avoided collapse while sanctioned around the world.

  • As long as they continue an alliance with China and Russia to keep their limited trade afloat, North Korea will keep exporting drugs, counterfeit bills, and slave labor.

  • North Korea’s outsourcing of slave labor is particularly disconcerting.

  • Check out this Seeker Daily video up top to learn more about why they started this practice.

  • Or, if you want to know how their secretive government actually works, check out our video down below.

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A recent UN report revealed that a large portion of North Korea’s overall income is brought in through outsourced slave labor.

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