N. Korean workers asked to leave Czech Republic by end of year: report

Yonhap
6/9/2007

About 200 North Korean workers employed by companies in the Czech Republic have been asked to leave the country by the end of this year, as the East European nation refused to extend their work visas, a U.S. broadcaster reported Saturday.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), quoting the Czech News Agency, said the Czech government decided to replace the North Korean manual workers with laborers from Vietnam and Mongolia, following a U.N. resolution against the North over its nuclear weapons program.

The Czech Republic’s decision also seems to be related to suspicion that wages earned by overseas North Korean workers were exploited by the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang, said the report. Some 200 other North Korean workers were already forced to return home last year for similar reasons, it added.

According to the RFA, Czech government officials confirmed that some North Korean workers had asked for their wages to be sent to “one specific account.”

The U.S. government has frequently called for countries not to hire North Korean workers, arguing their wages are being diverted to the government.

“Because the North Korean government takes a major portion of workers’ salaries, these arrangements provide material support for a rogue government, its nuclear ambitions, and its human-rights atrocities,” Jay Lefkowitz, a U.S. presidential envoy for North Korean Human Rights, said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

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