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North Korea, Apparel Production Networks and UN Sanctions: Resilience through Informality

북한 의류 생산네트워크와 UN 제재

  • Lee, Jong-Woon (Peace Education Center at Hanshin University) ;
  • Gray, Kevin (International Relations at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex)
  • Received : 2020.11.27
  • Accepted : 2020.12.22
  • Published : 2020.12.31

Abstract

The strengthening of multilateral international sanctions against North Korea has raised questions as to how effective they are in exerting pressure on the country's economy. In this paper, we address this question by examining their impact on the country's integration into regional and global apparel production networks. North Korea has in the past decade become an increasingly competitive exporter of apparel on the basis of consignment-based processing arrangements. Official trade data shows a sharp drop in North Korean exports of clothing since the sectoral ban in 2017. There is evidence to suggest, however, that exports have continued on a more informal and clandestine basis. North Korea's integration into apparel production networks has also taken the form of the dispatch of workers to factories in China's northeastern border regions. Yet there is evidence that the recent sanctions imposed on such practices has similarly led to illicit practices such as working on visitors' visas, often with the help of Chinese enterprises and local government. The resilience of North Korea's integration into apparel production networks follows a capitalist logic and is result of the highly profitable nature of apparel production for all actors concerned and a correspondingly strong desire to evade sanctions. As such, the analysis contributes to the literature on sanctions that suggests that the measures may contribute to emergence of growing informal and illicit practices and to the role of the clandestine economy.

본고는 북한이 임가공사업과 인력송출을 통해 중국 주도의 지역·글로벌 의류 생산네트워크에 편입되는 과정과 구조적 특성을 밝히면서, 강화된 국제사회의 대북 제재조치가 미친 영향을 파악하고자 한다. 2017년 하반기 채택된 UN안보리 결의안에 북한산 섬유제품의 수입금지와 해외 파견 북한 노동자의 송환이 포함되면서 2010년대 들어 급증했던 중국기업의 대북 위탁가공거래와 노동력 활용은 크게 위축되었다. 그러나 북·중 접경지역 경제교류에는 오랜 기간 불법적인 요소들을 포함한 다양한 비공식적 거래방식이 공존하고 있다. 대북 경제제재 강화에 따라 합법적 교류창구가 닫히게 되면서, 규모는 감소하였지만 북한의 의류 위탁가공생산과 노동부문의 북·중 협력은 음성적 영역으로 전환·진행되고 있다. 북한의 지역 및 글로벌 생산네트워크 편입의 실태를 분석한 본 연구는 대북 경제제재의 실효성과 북한경제 변화에 대한 시사점을 제시할 것이다.

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