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Friday, October 03, 2003



I'd suggest that Koreans can sleep easily exploiting masses of foreigners - but wouldn't stand for their first or second cousins subsisting under similar circumstances.

After two or three weeks of the videotaping the first South Korean Widget2004 built, assembled or crafted by a North Korean, the press will have to find another story. Obviously, how much life sux up north is off limits - Mr. Lee knows that his family will end up dead if he tells the truth. What's left? A "Day in the Life" docu-drama, no doubt.

Human rights groups, safety inspectors, and other well-intentioned folks (that have previously never heard of Ansan) will swarm, demanding minimum wages, 40 hour work weeks, and all sorts of things that all self-respecting South Koreans wearing red bandanas demand in labor negotiations.

Also, I don't think any Head of State has ever told anyone "Hey, why don't you send some illegal workers over to my country to do some work so my industrial pals pay them crap wages?" Seems a bit uncouth.


the answer to your question is obivious if you had bothered to think it through. political and ideological reasons aside, there is no south korean company that is going to employ north koreans,as opposed to thai or pakistani, for the simple reason that they don't know how to work!!! since they've grown up in a workers paradise that doesn't reward effort, why work hard if you get your rice and kim chi no matter what you do? to make my point, i did editing for kepco and read their internal labour documents on how they viewed the north korean worker's productivity on the reactor project up north. they rated the common labourer from pyongyang to be one third as productive as the layabouts they using from seoul. anecdotally, one engineer told me that some of his counterparts from the north were amazed that the southerners could work a ten hour without collapsing. the only result that could come from employing the northerners in industry here is bankruptcy.

The Yangban

Two things:

1. While I agree that commies take away people's incintive to work. I don't think Korea will have as big a problem as Germany had for one simple reason; South Korea has almost no welfare state to speak of. So if the northern brothers and sisters don't work, they don't eat. Starvation is a great motivator.

2. The real reason that they won't bring northern workers down here is that the South Korean companies would rather open shop up north. I read in the paper that workers in the joint developement zone in Gaesong will be paid about $60 a month. That compares with about $900 a month for a factory worker in the south.

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