N. Korean workers in China rise sharply under Kim Jong-un: study

February 10, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The number of North Korean workers earning foreign currency in China has grown sharply under the Kim Jong-un regime, a South Korean study showed Wednesday.

According to the Korea Development Institute, the number of North Korean workers in China increased from 79,600 in 2012 to 94,200 last year.

Over the four years of Kim’s rule, an average of 89,050 North Koreans worked in China each year, the institute said, citing Chinese government data.

Many of the North Koreans worked at factories, restaurants and construction sites near the border with the North.

Analysts view the increase in worker numbers as a reflection of the North’s economic troubles. China, North Korea’s main political ally and economic benefactor, has reportedly cut coal and iron ore imports from the neighboring country amid falling raw material prices worldwide.

During the reign of Kim’s late father and leader Kim Jong-il, an average of 56,800 workers were sent to China each year between 2005 and 2011.

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