North Korean beauty products such as false eyelashes and wigs are being sold around the world as “Made in China,” aiding a recovery in its economy, Reuters reported.
China-based firms are importing semi-finished products from North Korea, completing and packaging them before selling them to markets including the West, Japan and South Korea as “Made in China,” Reuters said, citing interviews with people from the eyelash industry, trade lawyers and North Korean economy experts. The process helps North Korea bypass international trade sanctions.
The country exported about 1,680 tons or $167 million of false eyelashes, beards and wigs to China last year, compared with $31.1 million in 2019 when prices were lower. Such goods accounted for almost 60% of the nation’s declared exports to its neighbor, Reuters said, citing Chinese customs data. North Korea’s exports to China more than doubled in 2023.
Anwita Basu, head of Europe Country Risk for BMI and one of the few economists who track the nation, estimated that North Korea’s economy could expand 0.5% this year with the help of growing trade with China.