Russia to send home tens of thousands of North Korean laborers

Moscow plans on sending home all North Korean workers within its borders by the end of 2019, Russian media reported Wednesday.

General view of the skyline of Pyongyang, North Korea. File Photo by JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock
General view of the skyline of Pyongyang, North Korea. File Photo by JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock

In an interview with Interfax earlier this month, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora said his government will repatriate the tens of thousands of North Koreans working in the country, in line with United Nations sanctions.

The UN Security Council’s Resolution 2397, adopted last month, requires all North Korean laborers to return to their homeland within two years, as a means of stifling the regime’s cash flow.

There are currently some 50,000 North Koreans providing low-cost labor in Russia to earn foreign currency for Pyongyang, according to Yonhap.

In the past, Russia has opposed enforcing heavy sanctions on North due to their diplomatic and economic ties.

However, Moscow did not exercise its veto power on the recent Security Council resolution which was drafted after the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile test.

During the interview, Matsegora added that he hasn’t made face-to-face contact with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un since his arrival in Pyongyang in 2014.

He said he contacts Kim indirectly through verbal messages or letters.

The ambassador added that he discusses diplomatic matters with Workers’ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Ri Su-yong and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho who he said are the “top-level negotiators for foreign affairs.”

Matsegora met Kim Jong-un in 2010, according to the Korea Economic Daily.

After he started his service as ambassador to Pyongyang, Matsegora presented his credential to Kim Yong-nam, the Norths head of parliament, in March 2015.

By Jennie Oh