Human rights groups say North Korea workers in Russia are little more than slaves, subjected to everything from cruel and violent acts to ruthless exploitation at the hands of corrupt officials, while being forced to turn over large chunks of their pay to the North Korean government.
One Russian boss was quoted as saying, “They don’t take holidays. They eat, work and sleep and nothing else. And they don’t sleep much. They are basically in the situation of slaves.”
A report issued earlier this year by the Seoul-based Data Base Center for North Korean Human Rights estimates that about 50,000 North Korean laborers are working low-paying jobs in Russia. They send at least $120 million every year to the regime in Pyongyang.
“The North Korean government maintains strict controls over their workers’ profits, in some cases probably taking 90 percent of their wages,” Scott Synder, director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council of Foreign Relations, told Fox News.
Even so many North Korean laborers are willing to pay bribes to be sent to Russia given the dire economic and political situation at home.
The U.S. State Department issued a report on human trafficking last month that concluded that North Korean workers in Russia had been subjected to “exploitative labor conditions characteristic of trafficking cases such as withholding of identity documents, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, lack of safety measures, or extremely poor living conditions.”
Such North Korean laborers work in other countries besides Russia. China uses large numbers of them, and Qatar has North Korean laborers helping build its World Cup stadium.