China issues 20 – 40 thousand work visas to DPRK employees

UPDATE (2012-7-1): Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy, follows up on the story of North Korean workers in China. She writes in the Los Angeles Times:

The deal, which has not been publicly announced by either Beijing or Pyongyang, would allow about 40,000 [not the 20,000 initially reported below] seamstresses, technicians, mechanics, construction workers and miners to work in China on industrial training visas, businesspeople and Korea analysts say. Most of the workers’ earnings will go directly to the communist North Korean regime.

The first North Korean workers under China’s new program arrived a few months ago in Tumen, a sleepy town hugging the North Korean border.

“They are already here,” said a Tumen-based businessman, who asked not to be quoted by name. He said he knew of 140 North Koreans who were working in an underwear factory in town.

Other workers were reported to be arriving in Dandong, a larger border city on the Yalu River, famed as the crossing point for Chinese Communist troops during the Korean War, and in Hunchun, a border town on a new road leading to the North Korean shipping port of Rason, where China is also developing port facilities.

Under the new arrangement, each North Korean worker should bring Pyongyang cash remittances of about $2,000 per year. Out of salaries of $200 to $300 per month, workers are likely to keep less than $50. Nevertheless, the jobs are considered a privilege because wages at home are well under $10 per month and food is scarce for many families, experts say.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-5-28): According to China Daily:

China is issuing 20,000 working visas to people from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to attract working labor to the northeast of the country, the website of Seoul’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Monday.

“To ease a manpower shortage in the three provinces in Northeast China, the (Chinese) authorities have decided to introduce 20,000 people from North Korea in the form of industrial trainees,” a diplomatic source based in Seoul told the newspaper.

According to the report, a company in Tumen, in the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province, has employed 29 women from the DPRK this month, for the first time. A further 160 DPRK women have been dispatched to the region.

Media in Northeast China also carried advertisements for DPRK labor, it said.

The newspaper said DPRK citizens can work in sectors including manufacturing and services after getting working visas, It said the monthly salary was above $150.

The average monthly pay of DPRK workers at the Kaesong Industrial Park, a collaborative economic development by the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, is $110.

China is issuing the visas to help the DPRK, while Pyongyang is actively pushing forward the move to help the country accumulate foreign exchange, said the report.

The Chinese government has yet to confirm the report.

Click here to read about the DPRK’s selection process for overseas workers.

Read the full story here:
China issues 20,000 work visas to DPRK
China Daily
Li Xiaokun
2012-5-28

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