Kim Jong Un ships thousands of North Korean 'slaves' to work in Russia
North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un exports tens of thousands of his subjects to Russia where they are put to work in slave-like conditions and have their wages garnished to fund his government, according to a Korean human rights group.
The Seoul-based Data Base Center for North Korean Human Rights issued a report which estimates that approximately 50,000 laborers are employed in Russia, according to Fox News.
The workers are victims of cruelty and violence at the hands of corrupt officials who eventually seize up to 90 percent of the pay that they earn.
The North Koreans who are put to work in Russia are paid approximately 50,000 rubles a month, which is equivalent to $841.
At least half of that sum is confiscated by a minder from the ruling Workers' Party of Korea and a construction crew boss will take another 20 percent, according to the report.
They are sent to Russia where they generate $120million ever year for the North Korean government, according to the Data Base Center.
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 US-Korea Policy at the Council of Foreign Relations, told Fox News.
'This is an issue that has been going on under the radar for a long time.’
Seizure of wages is one of the few ways in which the North Korean government generates revenue.
International sanctions against Pyongyang combined with a dearth of products that can be exported has left the impoverished and isolated country short on cash.
Russia has used considerable North Korean manpower to build its new soccer stadium in St. Petersburg.
North Koreans also helped build a luxury apartment complex in Moscow.
In addition, they are put to work in the home repair industry, where they perform tasks such as painting and plastering, according to The New York Times.
They reportedly toil under harsh – and, in some cases, life-threatening – conditions, according to the report.
One North Korean laborer died while working on the soccer stadium.
Two others were found dead at a hostel near the site of the Moscow luxury residence.
'They don't take holidays. They eat, work and sleep and nothing else. And they don't sleep much,' a Russian boss said.
'They are basically in the situation of slaves.’
Despite the harsh conditions, many North Koreans bribe officials to be sent to Russia due to the even worse situation at home.
North Korea is considered by the State Department to be one of the world's worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor.
It is on a par with China, Syria, and Iran.
The Trump administration has also grown concerned about conditions in China for North Korean labor crews that are contracted through Pyongyang and provide hard currency for the North Korean leadership.
A State Department report last month said that North Koreans in Russia are 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.’
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed fresh sanctions against North Korea in hopes of dealing with the problem.
'Secretary Tillerson has called on all countries to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions, sever or downgrade diplomatic relations, and isolate [North Korea] financially, including through new sanctions, severing trade relationships, expelling guest workers, and banning imports from North Korean,' a State Department official told Fox News.