Rip Curl, an Australian clothing company, was recently forced to admit that one of their manufacturing sites was actually a sweatshop in North Korea. The location of the factory was not officially listed, and the clothes were labeled as “made in China.”
The company claims that one of their suppliers moved the location without notifying them and that they had no clue about the operation taking place in North Korea until it was reported by the media.
Tony Roberts, Rip Curl’s Chief Financial Officer said in a recent statement that only one of their brands was effected and that the North Korean location was not authorized.
“We were aware of this issue, which related to our Winter 2015 Mountain-wear range, but only became aware of it after the production was complete and had been shipped to our retail customers.
This was a case of a supplier diverting part of their production order to an unauthorised travsubcontractor, with the production done from an unauthorised factory, in an unauthorised country, without our knowledge or consent, in clear breach of our supplier terms and policies.
We do not approve or authorise any production of Rip Curl products out of North Korea.”
However, other witnesses say that Rip Curl has been making clothing in North Korea since at least? July of 2014.
According to travel writer Anjaly Thomas, in 2014, she physically visited the factory in question, which is located in Pyongsong, and found that Rip Curl was making clothing there ?even at that time.
“The three floors of a large factory building was working full swing, with women in uniforms, bent over the machines under slow rotating fans, reducing yards of material into jackets and pants, expertly sowing, stitching together what would later sell for quite a sum in the western market,” Thomas wrote in her blog.
“The workers are paid very little and often as food coupons to be en-cashed at [government] run stores for rice and corn and very little cash comes to them,” she added.
Her findings were confirmed by Nik Halik, a businessman who visited the same factory in 2015.
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