US State Department North Korean Supply Chain Advisory: Introduction

North Korea Sanctions & Enforcement Actions Advisory Issued: July 23, 2018

Title: Risks for Businesses with Supply Chain Links to North Korea

The U.S. Department of State, with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is issuing this advisory to highlight sanctions evasions tactics used by North Korea that could expose businesses – including manufacturers, buyers, and service providers – to sanctions compliance risks under U.S. and/or United Nations sanctions authorities. This advisory also assists businesses in complying with the requirements under Title III, the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Businesses should be aware of deceptive practices employed by North Korea in order to implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains.

Multiple U.S. and UN sanctions impose restrictions on trade with North Korea and the use of North Korean labor.1 The two primary risks are: (1) inadvertent sourcing of goods, services, or technology from North Korea; and (2) the presence of North Korean citizens or nationals in companies’ supply chains, whose labor generates revenue for the North Korean government. This advisory also provides due diligence references for businesses.

North Korea’s system of forced labor operates both domestically and internationally. In North Korea, most laborers work between 12 and 16 hours per day (and sometimes up to 20 hours per day) with only one or two rest days per month in jobs they are assigned to by the North Korean government. Outside of North Korea, there are two primary groups of North Korean laborers earning income: (1) North Korean overseas laborers whose primary work is organized, managed, and overseen by, and produces revenue for, the North Korean government; and (2) North Koreans who have fled North Korea, including refugees and asylum seekers who live and work outside of North Korea and are earning income to sustain themselves in a personal capacity.

The U.S. government is focusing its disruption efforts on North Korean citizens or nationals whose labor generates revenue for the North Korean government. In most cases, employers pay salaries directly to the North Korean government, which takes between 70 percent and 90  percent of the total earnings. The North Korean government reportedly earns hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars per year from exporting labor. These remittances support the North Korean government’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs. Use of North Korean citizens or nationals as laborers in supply chains could trigger U.S. sanctions, and the issuance of work authorizations for these North Korean nationals is prohibited under UN Security Council resolution 2397 (2017).

The U.S. government is not seeking to disrupt the efforts of North Korean refugees and asylum seekers, who are living and working outside of North Korea, to earn an income to sustain themselves in a personal capacity. Individuals originally from North Korea, who obtain South Korean citizenship or any other citizenship, are no longer considered North Korean citizens or nationals, for purposes of CAATSA § 321 (b).

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