KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 ― Some 300 North Koreans reportedly working in Malaysia are remitting funds back to their despotic home regime.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the number is part of a 50,000-strong diaspora, many of whom are allegedly working in “slave-like conditions.”
Most of them are reportedly in Russia and China, numbering at 20,000 and 19,000 workers respectively, but Malaysia also features in the list of countries where North Korean workers are sent to help fund the regime and its leader Kim Jong-un.
In Ulanbaatar, Mongolia, where there are more than 1,000 North Korean labourers, the workers reportedly earn around US$700 (RM 2,830) but only receive around US$200 (RM 808) with the rest being paid to North Korean officials.
United States had already imposed sanctions on the matter, with an executive order from president Barack Obama in March blacklisting any individual connected to exporting North Korean workers.
Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said that US was “leading the international community to send a clear message to mid level North Korean officials that obeying orders to violate rights could have very negative consequences for them.”
In 2014, Putrajaya defended the influx of North Korean workers in the country, most of them under a special agreement between the Sarawak state government and the North Korean government.
Then Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that coal mining were dangerous jobs and as such North Koreans were needed.
“No local or Sarawakian will dare to take up the jobs ― that is why we need foreign workers. In the coal mining sector, only Britain, China and North Korea have highly skilled workers,” he reportedly said.