South Korea ranked 49th in the 2014 Global Slavery Index, in terms of people in modern slavery in absolute numbers, among 167 countries released by Australia’s Walk Free Foundation.
According to the report, some 93,700 people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery in the country.
The index defines modern slavery by including the presence of human trafficking, debt bondage, sex slavery and forced migrant labor or marriage.
North Korea, on the other hand, ranked 43rd, with some 108,200 people estimated to be enslaved.
The country’s high levels of poverty, government sanctioned forced labor, and lack of human rights provisions put North Koreans at the highest risk of being enslaved in the Asia Pacific region, the report said.
North Korea has also been included in the list of the nations that are “taking the least action to end modern slavery,” along with nine other countries including Iran and Syria.
“Some governments impose state-sponsored modern slavery, as experienced by the 1.2 million people forced to harvest cotton in Uzbekistan, or those forced to labor in prison camps in North Korea,” the report said.
As of this year, almost 65 percent of the estimated 35.9 million modern slaves worldwide live in the Asia Pacific region, according to the report.
Those who migrate from elsewhere in Asia for “low and semi-skilled” job opportunities are especially vulnerable to forced labor in the foreign countries, the report said.
“Men from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working in the Middle East are in forced labor in the construction industry, while women from the same countries, and the Philippines and Indonesia, have been subject to sexual exploitation and modern slavery in domestic work,” it said.
Meanwhile, India topped the list for having over 14 million adults and children trapped in modern-day slavery. China ranked in second and Pakistan third, with 3,241,400 and 2,058,200 people currently enslaved, respectively.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)