NewsNorth Korean labourers in China allegedly murder employers over withheld wages

North Korean labourers in China allegedly murder employers over withheld wages

Workers from North Korea are sent to factories in many countries.
Workers from North Korea are sent to factories in many countries.
Images source: © Getty Images | 2007 Getty Images
10:27 AM EST, February 19, 2024

The incident happened in January at a medical products manufacturing plant and a seafood cannery in Helong, in China's northeastern province of Jilin. The subsequent investigation disrupted factory operations for several weeks and resulted in the apprehension of a security officer and the fatal assault of a business manager. The government is currently addressing the situation.

The Japanese newspaper "Yomiuri" claimed that North Korean workers sent by the Kim Jong-un regime to neighbouring China were subjected to conditions as pitiful as those in their home country. For months, they failed to receive their due salaries after the deduction of the state "commission."

A significant group of over 2,000 individuals were relocated to work by a trading company associated with North Korea's Ministry of Defense. The Japanese newspaper "Yomiuri", citing North Korean sources, has validated these previously reported riots.

According to Radio Free Asia, this marks the first large-scale protest by North Korean workers in China. Based on Japanese sources, most workers are men over twenty who have completed their compulsory military service.

News that returning workers to North Korea were not paid sparked the workers' outburst, reports the newspaper.

North Korean workers fatally lash out at Chinese factory manager

As claimed by the Japanese, the irritation directed at the Chinese employer may be misguided. Most likely, the North Korean company dispatched these labourers who were withholding their salaries. The state could have seized the total amount under the pretext of a "war preparation fund."

Under current company agreements, North Korean labourers in the Jilin province receive a monthly salary ranging from approximately $97-140 or 700 to 1,000 Chinese yuan. The North Korean firms that deploy these workers to China are compensated $347-390 (2,500 to 2,800 Chinese yuan) per worker by their Chinese counterparts, leaving just 700 to 1,000 yuan for the actual workers.

Claims suggest that the total amount seized could be millions of dollars. Most likely, the company's managerial staff embezzled this sizeable sum.

The North Korean authorities pacified the workers by promising to return their wages. However, they also identified about 200 workers who were the instigators of the riot. They were repatriated to their home country. A North Korean source informed the Japanese newspaper that these riot leaders are likely to face harsh punitive measures at a political prison camp.

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