The salaries of North Korean forced labourers are believed to directly benefit the Kim Jong-un regime. Photo: KCNA/Scanpix Denmark
According to the reports, the military contracted with the Danish firm Karstensens Skibsværft to build the new ship, ’Lauge Koch’. The Danish shipyard then subcontracted part of the project to the Polish shipyard Crist, which was the subject of a 2016 Vice documentary exposing the existence of North Koreans forced into labour in Poland.
DR2 and the Norwegian magazine Teknisk Ukeblad obtained documents from Crist revealing that the North Koreans worked on the Danish warship. According to Information’s report, the North Korean state-run Rungrado General Trading Corporation delivered 45 workers to Poland to work on various shipbuilding projects, including the construction of the ‘Lauge Koch’.
The UN Security Council has repeatedly raised concerns that money earned by North Koreans who are sent abroad to work is used to fund the country’s nuclear programme. According to the Vice report, the North Korean labourers’ salaries go “through a network of companies directly into the pocket of the dictatorial Workers' Party”.
Reaction to the news that the North Korean labourers worked on a Danish warship was swift amongst Denmark’s politicians.
Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen told Information that it would be “completely scandalous” if the warship was indeed built by forced labourers but he declined to say more until investigating the situation further.
Denmark’s former foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, said the case was “crazy” and “absurd”.
“On its own it is completely problematic to work with a shipyard that uses forced labourers. And then on top of that comes an absurd security policy situation in which we may have indirectly supported North Korea,” Lidegaard, the defence spokesman for the Social Liberals, told Information.
DR2's documentary on the use of North Korean labourers will air on Tuesday evening.