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N. Korean IT specialists disguise nationality to earn foreign currency, says UN report  

N. Korean IT specialists disguise nationality to earn foreign currency, says UN report  

Posted September. 30, 2020 09:44,   

Updated September. 30, 2020 09:44


The United Nations North Korea Panel of Experts under the Security Council announced that North Korea may have succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear weapons and had been working on advancing its ballistic missile capacity in an interim report on Monday.  

The report has been written based on the panel’s internal investigation and assessment as well as reports from member countries. It was approved by 15 Security Council members. It says that Pyongyang has been engaging with activities that may be related to development of nuclear weapons such as producing highly enriched uranium, building light-water research reactors and preparing for uranium mines with the nuclear facility in Yongbyon at the center. According to it, many member countries believe that North Korea’s six nuclear tests have likely helped it develop miniaturized nuclear devices which can be attached to ballistic missiles. It said a member country assessed that North Korea “may seek to further develop miniaturization in order to allow incorporation of technological improvements such as penetration aid packages or, potentially, to develop multiple warhead systems.”

A diplomatic authority said the content of the report is almost the same as the assessment of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The assessment of member countries that North Korea continues to engage in nuclear activities is, in fact, agreed by specialized agencies including the IAEA.  

The report also said that the North had been advancing the capacity of ballistic missiles. It explained that Pyongyang has been accelerating the process to improve ballistic missiles publicized in 2019 into an operable weapon system and reinforce ballistic missile bases and industrial infrastructure.  

It also specified that the North had been illegally dispatching workers to overseas to earn foreign currencies. The Workers' Party Munitions Industry Department reportedly dispatched IT workers to overseas and disguised them through nationality theft to earn money.

The report said a group of 10 or 20 IT specialists earns more than 100,000 dollars per month in China. Most of them work as a freelancer using a name of someone from a third country. For instance, 16 North Koreans dispatched to a company called Silverstar at the Yanji National High-tech Industrial Development Area in China earned a million dollars last year. Pyongyang also dispatched medical workers to African countries such as Mozambique and Angola for medical cooperation and earned foreign currencies by running private hospitals.

Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com