AP investigates reports from South Korea of slavery of people with disabilities

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Map of North and South Korea

News from South Korea

The Associated Press reported January 1 its findings of an extensive investigation into reports of slavery in rural islands off the southwest coast of South Korea.

The area contains more than 850 salt farms, spread over dozens of islands. Reports of slavery of people with disabilities in recent years led to a national investigation. Although 50 island farmer owners and regional job brokers were indicted, almost nothing has changed.

“If the recent investigation was done properly, then pretty much everyone on the island should’ve been taken to the police station and charged,” said Kim Kang-won, an activist who participated in the recent investigation on Sinui, told the AP. “The whole village knew about it.”

The AP interviewed dozens of defectors for the story. Kim Seong-baek, a defector who escaped with another man with disabilities, worked 18 hour days mining for salt crystals.

“It was a living hell,” he told the AP.

The full AP story can be read here.