Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Q&A: Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Q&A: Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Greg Scarlatoiu is the executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Question: Can you describe the kind of conditions North Korean overseas workers live in?
Answer: It really depends on the site managers, some of them look after the workers, and some of them don’t. Individual waitresses can’t keep their tips. Kind-hearted managers may allow that within reason, but only while assuming great risks themselves. The women live together, work together and commute together, usually in a vehicle provided by the North Korean authorities. They sometimes go shopping, but always in a group, and never alone. If it becomes apparent that a customer is getting too close to one of the women, she is removed from that situation or simply sent home.

When workers are sent back to North Korea after making a mistake, how would they be treated?
They would most likely be sent to a reeducation camp (kyohwa-so), or worse, to a political prison camp (kwanli-so). I have only spoken with North Korean defectors [who had worked] overseas and they knew about such people.

If a worker defects, would their families be sent to the gulag?
There used to be no exceptions. But nowadays, there may be some, depending on the seniority of the respective worker. The higher the rank, the more likely it would be that the family would end up in the gulag.

Why is three years the maximum time North Korean restaurant workers can spend overseas?
Most of them are daughters of the elite. By spending more than three years overseas, they would become too accustomed to an ‘alien’ way of life. Families want them to come back and get married.

Read the story of how a North Korean waitress escaped from her job in one of the regime's restaurants, in Siem Reap, after falling in love with a South Korean man.

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Cambodia's last tile masters: Why a local craft is under threat

Brought over by the French, painted cement tile making has been incorporated into Cambodian design for more than a century, even as the industry has died out in Europe.

Interview: Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father

The story of Loung Ung and her family’s suffering under the Khmer Rouge became known around the world with the success of her autobiographical book, First They Killed My Father.

Setting up a drone for flight. Photo supplied

How Cambodia's first drone company is helping farmers

SM Waypoint claims its unmanned aerial vehicles can help local farm and plantation owners increase their yields.