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North Korea Sending Workers for Oil

Posted November. 03, 2006 03:01,   


It is being reported that North Korea has increased its oil imports from Primorsky, Russia every year and made its payment by sending labor abroad due to its payment incapability.

According to the government of Primorsky yesterday, North Korean oil imports increased from 62,000 dollars in 2001 to 4.4 million dollars last year. Considering that the export price for Russian Urals oil has increased 35% during the past four years, North Korean oil supplies imported from Primorsky have been more than a 42-fold increase.

“Primorsky, which does not have oil resources, exports oil to North Korea through the federal government and in compensation we get labor instead of money due to North Korean incapability of making its payment,” said Primorsky experts on North Korea.

Dong-A Ilbo special team confirmed in an interview with the government of Primorsky that North Korea has been increasing its labor exports from 3,320 workers at the end of last year to 5,000 workers until late of this year. The current number of abroad sending workers is the greatest ever since Statistics Committee of Primorsky analyzed statistics of North Korean labors in 1993.

The government of Primorsky allowed only some North Korean labor force imports. Recently, however, it is reported that they have increased the scale according to the increasing demand from local companies in Russia.

A government official of Primorsky stated over a phone call with reporters on October 30, “We have limited the number of labor permits since foreign workers are taking away employment from Russian workers.” The official did not specifically mention the reason of the recent growing North Korean labor forces because “the person in charge is away at the moment.”

However, Professor Larisha Jabrobskaja at the Far Eastern Research Center in Vladivostok, who has studied North Korean labor problems for 15 years, explained the reason as, “North Korea, suffering from a chronic trade deficit since the 1990s, is sending labor abroad in an attempt to make its payment.”

He added, “Considering the current trade structure of Primorsky, which its oil import to North Korea accounts 70% of the total exports, it seems Primorsky is swapping oil for North Korean labor.”

“North Korea is planning to expand its oil import through attracting Russian energy corporations in the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone and the Primorsky’s project to expand its oil and coal export is taking shape these days,” according to the government of Primorsky.

Most of the workers who were forced to enter into Russia in the 1990s worked as woodcutters, but nowadays they work in various fields including construction, agricultural and marine industry.


Local Russians in Primorsky said, “North Korean workers usually get disadvantaged when they look for jobs after the entry and also when they exchange money through North Korean executives, even by offering bribes.”