Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean ambassador to London, gave a press conference in which he offered some interesting information on official salaries.
According to Yonhap:
North Korean diplomats and their families who are dispatched to foreign countries live together as one group. It’s like a microcosm of North Korean society, he said. An ambassador takes home an average monthly salary of about US$900-1,100 although the amount varies depending on the country. A minister gets about $700-800.
“Many people question how one could live in London with a salary of less than $1,000 … (Because of that) All the North Korean diplomats based overseas make extra income using all means possible,” according to Thae.
Diplomats are also required to earn foreign currency and send it to the regime, a compulsory task designed to make up for North Korea’s dwindling foreign exchange income due to sanctions, which is crucial to its development of nuclear weapons.
“Diplomats affiliated with the ministries of foreign trade or finance are given specific tasks to earn foreign currency, failure of which leads to interrogation by the head office,” Thae said.
Those from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not given a specific amount of money to earn, but they are subject to monthly performance reviews, he said. “Many people fail to live up to the task and go under tremendous psychological pressure and suffering.”
North Korean diplomats in overseas countries are also subject to close surveillance by the state. The ambassador or second-highest ranking official at a foreign mission is often designated the chief surveillance official and required to report on his embassy staff.
Wary of potential defection by diplomats, the regime keeps one member of the overseas-based diplomat’s family in North Korea as hostage, he noted.
You can read the full story here:
High-profile defector sheds light on everyday life of N. Korean diplomats