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South Korea sees signs North Korea is sending workers to Russia

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 13, 2023 9:51 AM 2 min read
Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur region ahead of talks on Sept. 13, 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/AFP via Getty Images)
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The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that North Korea is allegedly sending workers to Russia, the Yonhap news agency reported on Dec. 12.

There have been reports that Russia may be attempting to source workers from abroad as an increasingly high number of the male Russian workforce is being sent to fight in Ukraine or into military manufacturing. Russia is also suffering major casualties in its war in Ukraine, with U.S. intelligence recently reporting  figures of up to 315,000.

"As there are movements of North Korea seeking to send its workers to Russia, we are keeping close tabs on the situation," the NIS said without providing any further information.

The Financial Times reported in November that other blue-collar industries have struggled to find workers as a result.

Ukraine's National Resistance Center reported in September that Russia was allegedly planning to bring North Korean workers to occupied parts of Ukraine to participate in construction projects.

Sending workers to Russia would be a violation of a UN resolution that prohibits North Korean nationals from earning money abroad. The resolution was passed in December 2017 as part of ongoing sanctions against the country for conducting missile tests and other aggressive behavior.

Russia has also sought to recruit and, on occasion, force labor migrants from Central Asia to fight in Ukraine.

The U.S. confirmed increased weapons and ammunition transfers from North Korea to Russia following a meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in September. Washington said it is "deeply concerned" that North Korea may receive nuclear or ballistic missile-related technology in exchange.

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