Salmon Bought At Walmart, Aldi In US May Help Subsidize North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program

Shoppers select salmon in a large chain food store August 19, 2008 in Glendale, California.

Salmon bought at two popular retail supermarket chains in the U.S. may help to subsidize the North Korean nuclear weapons program. A new investigation done by the Associated Press indicates that Americans buying salmon at both Walmart and Aldi may be unknowingly subsidizing the North Korean government as it continues to become a world nuclear power. The findings of the Associated Press investigation were published on Wednesday, but comments from some Walmart and Aldi shoppers say they have suspected this for a while.

According to the Associated Press, some salmon stocked in Walmart and Aldi U.S. locations may have been processed in China by outsourced North Korean workers. The North Korean government is reportedly sending “tens of thousands of workers” to differents countries worldwide to not only “prep seafood,” but to also sew garments and make wood flooring, all of which eventually winds up in U.S. stores. The Associated Press stated that only the seafood shipments were tracked during their investigation.

The New York Daily News reported on Thursday that the North Korean government profits millions of dollars a year from workers that they send worldwide, which could fund a “sizeable portion” of their ongoing nuclear weapons program. The report goes on to say that the new Associated Press investigation “reveals for the first time” that some products made and processed by North Korean workers are exported to the U.S., adding that, as of early August, doing so may result in criminal charges against U.S. companies by the U.S. federal government.

An ABC News affiliate out of North Carolina also shared the Associated Press investigation findings, noting that 70 percent of the outsourced North Korean workers’ salaries is taken by the North Korean government and the current regime. Sending “forced” and strictly controlled workers to China to help process salmon and other seafood is a way for North Korea to bring in money when it’s currently banned from selling products — “almost anything” — to other countries. Workers in a Chinese garment factory confirmed to an Associated Press reporter that they were from the North Korean capital before they were quickly told to “be silent.”

Only Walmart and Aldi stores based in the U.S. were mentioned to have a relationship with the Chinese seafood companies that process the aforementioned salmon, but U.S. shoppers aren’t really surprised. Some comments say they always check labels “to see where it comes from” before they buy. Other comments say that they suspect “a lot of stuff” made in China is also made by North Korea.

Some Aldi shoppers noticed months ago and pointed out on social media that wild-caught salmon from Aldi is processed in China, leading to a reply from Aldi USA on Facebook that says “most products sold in our stores are manufactured in the U.S.” The comment adds that Aldi USA understands “that customers have a broad range of criteria that they use in making purchasing decisions,” including their supplier partners.

Follow Your Fish explains seafood processing in China, saying that “China ranks among the top seafood” processing and importing countries worldwide, with much of its processed seafood exported to Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States. Follow Your Fish goes on to say that the United States is “one of its biggest suppliers of seafood” for processing.

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]