It is perhaps too easy to make fun of North Korean propaganda, but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle (ask Sarah Michelle where this one comes from). And if the absence of good (or even just moderately bad) news from Pyongyang isn’t enough (with the noted exception of course of the quality of the cappuccino one can drink in Pyongyang these days, I am told – frequently; and foreigners can apparently also win law suits in North Korea these days! Oh my), not even the objective and verifiable observation that the DPRK ’employs’ forced labourers in the EU (obscure reference to our report found here) has brought the harbingers of good news to my door. The European press has been mainly interested in focusing on the fact that EU regional funds have been indirectly used to fund these practices. Important bit of news that is, but not really. Not when compared to the abuses the DPRK workers routinely and systematically suffer toiling away on foreign soil. So thank you, The Sun, for totally misrepresenting our findings in order to use it as ammunition in your pro-Brexit Let’s Make Boris Johnson President For Life-movement and turning me into an anti-EU instrument in your grubby campaign. Although I am suitably impressed by the subtlety expressed in for instance the gracious headline above the article, I am also staunchly pro-EU. A real imperialist in that sense (and not in the sense of conquering other countries or acquiring colonies, but I’ll take the risk of decline and ruin). The sooner we loose our national borders, the better. Which is why I am all the more disappointed with the total silence from Brussels (with the exception of EU MEPs who have contacted us and have asked questions in parliament). But as we all know, it’s the civil servants who hold real power and who set the course. And they have been silent. Silenter than silent, in fact. As if we still find ourselves in the post-coital bliss of the Sunshine Policy, when everything was great and no-one wanted to know what we now know (scientifically proven, so irrefutable, he added): one out of every twenty North Koreans is a contemporary slave. I was having real problems with engagement with North Korea given North Korea’s disregard of basic human rights anyway, but now it is official. Engagement with a slave-holding state is out of the question. It is taboo. To put this into perspective: as far as I know (but correct me if I am wrong, this is not my field), the percentage of slaves in pre-Civil War America was 12%-13%. A horribly devastating war (if that isn’t a tautology) was fought to end this inhumane (he said euphemistically) practice in the United States. Now don’t go telling me that you can’t compare North Korea and the American South in the 1850-60s because they’re too different (if they weren’t different there’d be no need for comparison, smartypants). I realise that practice of slavery in the American South was very different than that of the contemporary slavery found in North Korea, but they meet each other in their fundamental inhumanity. Enough reason, methinks, for the EU to take action. And for the Dutch government, we are after all in the midst of presiding over the EU. If the Dutch Prime Minister had the time to broker a nefarious deal with Turkey to disappear refugees from the EU, he should have time to do something about contemporary slavery (isn’t one of the spear points of the Dutch EU presidency ‘decent work’? Would be intolerably ironic if contemporary slavery on EU soil would fail to put them into action). Or perhaps not. Brokering that deal with Turkey was after all not the kind of deal that retroactively makes the EU deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. So, no action from the EU, haven’t heard from our own government either. Frapper, frapper toujours, it then is or according to Winston ‘KBO.’ This is too important to be diplomatic about. I mean that literally. This is not a matter for diplomats any longer. This should be dealt with at the highest levels. Urgent this is.