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Areas of China and Russia in close proximity to North Korea are believed to present the greatest third-country risk of North Korean labour. However, other countries cited in the media and/or by US government officials where North Korean labour is or recently has been present include the Gulf states, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland and Uruguay. In total, US government officials have indicated that more than 40 countries have been identified as having, or as having had, North Korean forced labour. Many industries have been implicated.

Recent United Nations and European Union sanctions against North Korea, as well as action by the Chinese government, are believed to have at least in part reduced the presence of overseas North Korean labour. However, these do not negate the need for appropriate compliance procedures, since the risk has not been eliminated.