North Korean Workers Ejected From China Ahead of Sanctions Deadline

November 6, 2017 Updated: November 6, 2017    

Reports from inside China reveal sanctions are pushing North Korean workers out of the country, cutting off one of the final key sources of foreign-made income for the North Korean regime.

Many workers are even being sent home earlier than required by the sanctions.

In one instance, a Chinese pharmaceutical factory in the border city of Longjing, Jilin province, canceled contacts with over 70 North Korean workers in the middle of October and hired more expensive Chinese workers to replace them.

“Although they hadn’t even been here for a year, their contracts were canceled in the middle of their term and they returned to North Korea,” a local Chinese source told Daily NK,  on Nov. 2. Daily NK specializes in accessing stories from within the isolated communist state.

A similar trend has been playing out across China as the Chinese regime implements sanctions arising from U.N. Security Council Resolution 2375 from September.

The resolution requires all existing North Korean overseas laborers to return home at the end of their current contracts, but many workers are being sent home early.

“The fact that these workers were sent home before the end of their contract suggests that the Chinese authorities are actively intervening or pressuring businesses through unofficial means to dump their North Korean workers,” reported Daily NK.

Earlier reports from the specialized news site revealed Chinese authorities pushing factories in Dandong City to cancel employment contracts with North Korean workers.

In October, about 30 workers in the city of Yanji, Jilin Province, close to the North Korean border, were reportedly sent back to North Korea.

They were last seen shopping at the market in Yanji.

“They bought a large number of products and then weren’t seen in the markets for some time,” a local source told Daily NK. “I asked about this, and found out that they had all returned to North Korea.”    

Many of the workers paid bribes for the opportunity to send money home to North Korea. While overseas workers often see the majority—sometimes the entirety—of their salary claimed by the North Korean regime and their local handlers for costs like housing and food, the chance to get out of North Korea and earn money is attractive to many.

Daily NK has found several instances of sanctions impacting businesses inside China, according to its sources.

In October, the site reported that China officially notified North Korean companies that they must leave China within 120 days.

“In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2375, Chinese-North Korean joint ventures and foreign-funded enterprises in China must cease operations,” read the Sept. 28 directive on the website of China’s Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.   

The also found that North Korean restaurants appeared to be under some kind of unofficial boycott. 

Over 100 North Korean restaurants—most of them operating as joint ventures with Chinese partners—face possible closure.

“An order was handed down from Kim Jong Un to pull out all overseas laborers and restaurant workers from China by the end of the year,” a source close to North Korean affairs told Daily NK.