Korea Utara Boosts Exports of Wigs and False Eyelashes, US on High Alert
|"A woman is seen using the front camera on her mobile phone to check her eyelashes during an event in Beijing, China, on July 4, 2018. (AP/NG HAN GUAN via VOA INDONESIA)"|
Korea Utara, or North Korea, has been ramping up its export of wigs and false eyelashes, raising concerns among the United States due to possible violations of US sanctions against the country. Experts have pointed out that many of these products labeled as "Made in China" and sold by retailers in the United States may actually originate from North Korea, the very place targeted by the sanctions.
Increasing Imports of False Hair and Eyelashes from North Korea
In April, China imported approximately 30 tons of false hair and false eyelashes manufactured in North Korea, with a total value exceeding $22.7 million (Rp 337.83 billion), as reported by data from the General Administration of Customs of China, which was observed by VOA Korea. Around half of these imports, worth more than $11.2 million (Rp 166.65 billion), were brought in by Chinese companies in the Henan province. Xiaogang, a city in Henan, serves as the world's largest manufacturing, distribution, and export center for wigs.
Despite North Korea closing its borders with China in January 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, trade between the two neighboring nations has gradually resumed since North Korea announced the successful prevention of Covid-19 in August 2022. China remains North Korea's largest trading partner. The April export figures for false hair and false eyelashes from Pyongyang to China indicate that "trade has recovered after the pandemic," as the total North Korean exports to China in 2021 amounted to just $56.3 million, according to Troy Stangarone, a senior director at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), in an email response to VOA Korea.
Remaining Vigilant to Avoid Involvement with North Korean Labor
While North Korean exports to China have returned to pre-pandemic levels, experts advise US companies to exercise caution to prevent their supply chains from inadvertently involving Chinese manufacturers utilizing North Korean labor.
The penalties imposed by the United States for sanctions violations include "detention, fines, and seizure of all imported goods and the proceeds of such offenses," as stated by US federal law. Stangarone stated, "Chinese companies have been known to contract with North Korean firms and label their products as 'Made in China.' Any effort by Chinese companies, whether direct or indirect, to export wigs, false eyelashes, or any goods originating from North Korea would violate the sanctions imposed by the US."
The increasing export of wigs and false eyelashes by North Korea, particularly through Chinese manufacturers, has raised concerns regarding potential violations of US sanctions. While trade between North Korea and China has resumed following the closure of borders during the pandemic, US companies must remain vigilant to ensure their supply chains remain free from involvement with North Korean labor. Any complicity in such activities could result in severe legal consequences under US federal law.