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Pyongyang deprives 90% of income earned by workers deployed overseas

Pyongyang deprives 90% of income earned by workers deployed overseas

Posted March. 10, 2015 22:24,   


“They only force us to sign on a piece of paper without paying, saying that they would pay us when we go home. Then, they don’t pay. We have tough times working overseas, but are not paid,” said a North Korean defector in his early 30s, who worked as an urban construction worker in Kuwait for two years from 2007.

“When a worker fell from a place 100 meters high and died, compensation was paid by Kuwait. The compensation was about 50,000 Kuwaiti dinar to 100,000 dinar (167,000 U.S. dollars – 335,000 dollars). But I heard that only 2.24 million won (2,000 dollars) was given to his family. They truly live dirty as humans. How on earth can they deprive compensation paid for a dead person?,” said another defector in his early 30s, who worked as construction worker for two years from 2010 in Kuwait.

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, a non-profit organization, released on Tuesday a report on current situation of North Korean workers overseas and their human rights. The report, which has been compiled based on testimonies by 20 North Korean defectors who were deployed overseas and those who worked to dispatch North Koreans to overseas worksites, include testimonies suggesting that the North Korean authority even forfeited compensation for the death of North Korean workers.

According to the result of the survey, the North dispatched 50,000 to 60,000 workers to 16 countries worldwide, and is earning an estimated 1.2 billion dollars to 2.3 billion dollars yearly. However, North Korean workers who are actually deployed overseas are exposed to a dire working environment where they are forced to work for up to 18 hours a day, and are deprived by the North Korean authority of around 90 percent of their salary.

The report said that the North Korean mission to the countries where North Korean workers are deployed takes up 70 percent of the workers’ salary. North Korean workers are paid the remainder in the local currency, but they are forced to pay North Korean authorities 10 to 20 percent this income as Workers’ Party fund, and loyalty fund for revolution. The report thus suggested that they are only paid about 10 percent of what they earn, after paying the expenses for lodging and meals. The report found that what North Korean workers are actually paid amounts to “about 100 dollars on average per month.”

A North Korean defector who was in charge of dispatching North Korean workers overseas said, “Many people died while working. The government paid nothing in compensation. They weld iron casket, place the body of the dead inside the casket to prevent bodily fluid from leaking, and carry it by train back to North Korea.” Some testimonies suggested that as workers are not provided proper clothing, some would pick up clothes dumped at waste disposal sites to wear.