According to The Seattle Times, China and North Korea has signed a deal to allow North Korea to export tens of thousands of North Korean workers to China to raise cash for the regime, said an article posted on Netease, one of China’s four largest web portals.
The labor deal has not been publicly announced by either Beijing or Pyongyang, but the first batch of North Korean guest workers have arrived in China’s Tumen city several months ago.
Reportedly, North Korea would send about “40,000 seamstresses, technicians, mechanics, construction workers and miners to work in China on industrial training visas,” and “most of the workers’ earnings will go directly to the communist North Korean regime.”
Under the deal, each worker could earn around $200 to $300 salary per month, but they are likely to keep less than $50 because all the other part will be remitted to the regime. (“Nevertheless, the jobs are considered a privilege because wages at home are well under $10 per month and food is scarce for many families,” according to The Seattle Times.)
When picking its workers to work in China, the North Korean government made “a very meticulous selection process“. They must be very loyal, and in order to ensure that they will not run away, the government also requires workers must be married and have relatives working in the country’s Workers’ Party.
In fact, as disclosed by South Korean media, Pyongyang has exported its workers to far eastern Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic before too, but “their contracts were canceled because of European human rights activists’ concern that they were virtually slave laborers.”
China side did not publicize the labor deal, as it was said Beijing would worry that the public opinion in the county would be unfriendly to the communist North Korean regime.
For the Chinese employers, “There are no better employees than North Koreans: They are obedient, efficient and cheap.” But the public would not be in favor of the deal, as in this May a group of armed North Koreans seized 29 Chinese fishermen for almost 2 weeks for ransom.