North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un exports tens of thousands of his subjects to Russia where they are put to work in slave-like conditions and have their wages garnished to fund his government, according to a Korean human rights group.
The Seoul-based Data Base Center for North Korean Human Rights issued a report which estimates that approximately 50,000 laborers are employed in Russia.
They are monitored by North Korean security forces to prevent defections; many report being paid in scrip rather than legal currency. In 2010 reports came out from Nakhodka indicating that North Korean workers and traders there had been evacuated back to their home country due to rising military tensions with South Korea.
In 2011 Kim Jong-il made a visit to Russia in which he reportedly negotiated for even more North Korean workers to be sent to Russia. Up to 70% of the $40 to $100 per month wages earned by the workers are reported to be taken away as “loyalty payments”. The North Koreans who are put to work in Russia are paid approximately 50,000 rubles a month, which is equivalent to $841.
UN investigators have said that most of the estimated 60,000 to 100,000 North Koreans who work abroad are employed in Russia and China and earn between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year — providing a significant infusion of foreign cash for Pyongyang at a time when its access to hard currency is limited by sanctions.