The Rime of the Juche Mariner: North Korean Sailors and Fishermen Dispatched Overseas through Montevideo, Uruguay by Greg Scarlatoiu
(translation of all North Korean propaganda material by Raymond Ha)
Faced with intense scrutiny, the North Korean regime appears to be exploring industries and geographic areas where its workers are “conveniently” out of the field of sight of the international community. Sailors and fishermen dispatched to work on foreign ships live and work in tightly contained environments, vulnerable to abuse by both North Korean government minders and foreign ship captains and managers. Moreover, no location in South America has yet been associated with the overseas dispatch of North Korean workers. By dispatching sailors and fishermen through Montevideo, Uruguay, the North Korean regime has been able to avoid international attention.
But such operations may no longer be so easy to conceal. Sources in the country have confirmed that a Uruguayan company is cooperating with the North Korean authorities to dispatch North Korean sailors and fishermen to work on foreign ships. Based on luggage tag information, prior to landing in Montevideo, the sailors transit through Beijing and Paris. Although HRNK hasn’t yet been able to independently verify this information, the company has been identified as “Grupo Christophersen Organizacion Maritima,” headquartered in Montevideo. In order to avoid scrutiny by locals and to deny the sailors contact with the outside world, the North Koreans are picked up as soon as they land in Montevideo. They are then taken to a foreign fishing vessel by taxi. Practically, unless they are accompanied by watchful North Korean minders, the sailors can’t set foot on Uruguayan soil. According to local sources, it is primarily Taiwanese ships that make port in Uruguay and take on groups of ten to twenty North Korean sailors. Two of these Taiwanese fishing ships identified by local sources are reportedly “Shengpa” and “Samdera Pacific.”