Wednesday, January 4, 2006


HatTip to Mingi. Messed up.

The old schoolhouse stands alone at the end of a quiet country road flanked by snow-flecked wheat fields. From behind the locked door, opaque with smoked glass, come the clatter of sewing machines and, improbably, the babble of young female voices speaking Korean.

The schoolhouse, which closed long ago for lack of students in this village of 200, is now a factory producing uniforms. Almost all the workers are North Korean, and the women initially looked delighted to see visitors. It gets lonely working out here, thousands of miles from home. They crowded around to chat.
Hundreds of young North Korean women are working in garment and leather factories like this one, easing a labor shortage in small Czech towns. Their presence in this new member of the European Union is an echo of North Korea's former alliance with other Communist countries.

The North Korean government keeps most of the earnings, apparently one of the few legal sources of hard currency for an isolated and impoverished regime living off counterfeiting, drug trading and weapons sales.
(full article)

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