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Enjoying the relative freedom of being a Chinese worker. (Photo/Xinhua)
North Korea will send 120,000 of its citizens to work in the northeastern Chinese cities of Dandong, Tumeng and Hunchun, reports major South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. The three cities are all close to the border between the two countries.
The North Korean workers — 10,000-20,000 of whom are software engineers — will be paid US$200-$300 a month, the newspaper said. But they will have to share their salaries with the North Korean government and the firms that found their jobs in China, with each party receiving one-third of the earnings.
The owner of a clothing factory in Dandong welcomed the news, saying North Korean workers are relatively “hard-working, effective and affordable,” reported Economic Observer, a Beijing-based weekly. “This will legalize the practice of employing North Korean workers in many northeastern Chinese cities,” added the factory owner.
The Observer quoted a labor official in Dandong as saying that North Korean laborers are only allowed to work in food processing, textiles and information technology, and that their numbers cannot exceed 20% of the total workforce. A labor official in Dandong said that only four companies in the city have been approved to employ North Korean workers, three textile firms and one software company.
Li Li, a Chinese businessman, visited North Korea in May to see how the country trains its workers before dispatching them overseas. “Female workers are trained to dress and behave properly to live up to North Korea’s state image,” Li said, quoted by the weekly. “[They] are usually too shy to talk to strangers when working overseas. Now they are trained to communicate with foreigners.” said Li.
After training, the workers are sent overseas en masse, along with several supervisors who keep a close eye on their behavior and lifestyle. After each day of work they are ferried to their dormitories in buses, and their activities thereafter must be approved in advance by supervisors, said Li.
To cultivate an image of Kim Jong-un — North Korea’s recently inaugurated despot — as a relatively open leader, the country will allow its female workers to wear short pants and jewelry, as well as use mobile phones, while working overseas. They will not have to write diaries and reports as before. North Korean workers will also be allowed to eat and work together with Chinese citizens, though they will be housed separately.
According to data released by China’s National Tourism Administration, 40,200 North Koreans visited China in the first three months of this year, including 19,300 workers.
Yet the Economic Observer said there are more illegal North Korean workers in China than legal ones.
Source: Want China Times