Rhoda (Retired) Howard-Hassmann, PhD, FRSC
State Enslavement in North Korea
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann
published: 2012 | Working paper | Working Paper
Much of the literature about contemporary slavery focuses on enslavement by private actors, such as human traffickers or those who use bonded labor. Bales, for example, discusses the new slavery of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a slavery rooted in profit-making, in which governments are often complicit but which they formally recognize as illegal (Bales 1999). However, the crime of enslavement is not only committed by private criminals; it is also a state practice that benefits elites, and sometimes the entire economy of a country. This chapter discusses state slavery, defined as enslavement of citizens by the state. State slavers are those individuals in charge of the state who instigate, direct, and often profit from state slavery. North Korea (officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is an example of a wider problem of state slavery in contemporary dictatorial states.
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