North Koreans doing forced labour in Malaysia, UN investigator says

United Nations (UN) investigator says more than 50,000 North Korean workers were currently employed overseas in primarily the mining, construction, textile and logging industries. ― File pic
United Nations (UN) investigator says more than 50,000 North Korean workers were currently employed overseas in primarily the mining, construction, textile and logging industries. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 ― North Koreans are being sent to Malaysia and other countries to work in forced labour conditions to earn money for the purportedly financially strapped nation, a United Nations (UN) investigator said.

International news wire AP reported yesterday Marzuki Darusman, special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, as saying in a report to the UN general assembly and at a press conference that the companies hiring North Korean workers were “complicit in an unacceptable system of forced labour”.

Darusman reportedly said more than 50,000 North Korean workers were currently employed overseas in primarily the mining, construction, textile and logging industries, mostly in China and Russia, but also in Malaysia, Algeria, Angola, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Libya, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Poland, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

AP reported that according to Darusman, civil society groups said North Korean workers earned US$120 (RM514) to US$150 (RM643) a month on average, are sometimes forced to work up to 20 hours a day, don’t receive enough food, and only have one or two rest days a month.

Employers, however, pay “significantly higher amounts” to the North Korean government, Darusman was quoted saying.

He reportedly cited an International Network for the Human Rights of North Korean Overseas Labor 2012 report that said the reclusive Asian nation was believed to get between US$1.2 billion (RM5.1 billion) and US$2.3 billion (RM9.9 billion) a year from its workers employed in foreign countries.