The blacklisting of North Korea under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is mostly symbolic, since the ban would prohibit Washington from providing non-humanitarian, non-trade-related assistance” to embargoed countries.
North Korea is not a recipient of any U.S. funding, according to Yonhap.
Other countries that have received the designation include Equatorial Guinea, Russia, Syria and Iran.
North Korea is suspected of widespread human trafficking violations, involving the overseas deployment of forced laborers.
In September, a South Korean government think tank stated North Korea’s forced laborer population may be growing, and that there may be about 110,000-120,000 North Korean workers earning foreign currency in 20-40 countries for the Kim regime.
A separate estimate by the Seoul-based Database Center for North Korean Human Rights issued last December indicated Pyongyang was deploying at least 50,000 people to earn up to $300 million.
Other estimates have ranged from $150 million to $2.3 billion annually. The revenue goes directly to the North Korean leadership and has been linked to the financing of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has continued to grow, according to a U.S. think tank.
The RAND Corporation estimates North Korea could have as many as 100 nuclear weapons by 2020 that can be delivered on various road-mobile and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
“During the next four to six years, Pyongyang will possess a nuclear force of sufficient size, diversity, reliability, and survivability to invalidate our regional military posture and war plans by holding at risk key bases and amplifying the risk to allies,” the report read.