Interfax: Russia starts sending North Korean labor migrants back home – ambassador in Pyongyang

North Korea Map and Flag, adapted from .gov image

NEW YORK. Feb 7 (Interfax) – Russia has started sending North Korean labor migrants home consistent with the latest resolution of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador in Pyongyang Alexander Matsegora told the Russian press in New York.

“That would affect the Russian economy, especially the Far East, rather seriously. […] Yet we are strictly and unwaveringly complying with the UN Security Council’s decision,” Matsegora said.

Many governors have started sending North Korean workers back home, he said.

From 12,000 to 15,000 Russian visas are yearly issued to North Korean citizens, mostly labor migrants, Matsegora said. The maximum number of North Korean migrants who have ever simultaneously worked in Russia is 37,000, he said.

“They are working across Russia and arrive in groups, rather than individually. […] Most of these people are builders, but they are also employed by our fish factories and agriculture in the Far East,” Matsegora said.

He denied the allegations that North Korean citizens were ‘slaves’ in Russia. North Korean workers are paid practically as much as Russians; their average monthly salary is around $500, he said.

Matsegora added that Russia was not ‘forcing’ migrants unwilling to return to North Korea to leave. “We are not sending anyone back to North Korea by force. […] We are interacting with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. We are solving all problems of people who decide not to go back,” he said.