SEOUL, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- North Korean taekwondo masters who are sent overseas can make at least $10,000 per demonstration, a source in Pyongyang says.
The Kim Jong Un regime is dispatching top athletes to earn much needed foreign currency, as it continues to be condemned for deploying forced laborers overseas.
Pyongyang is using sporting events to earn revenue because tournaments and competitions are not subject to sanctions, Radio Free Asia reported Friday.
RFA's source also said the regime is in negotiations with countries like China, India and Bulgaria to send more martial arts instructors and athletes.
Pyongyang has been facing obstacles to growing the presence of forced laborers overseas due to international embargoes. The North Korean operation is using programs that encourage sporting and cultural exchange to negotiate fees for athletes, so they can earn money for the Kim leadership, according to the source.
The source also said an "average" athlete earns about $100-500, but outstanding performers can earn "hundreds of thousands of dollars in combined advances, including a salary, contract fees and bonuses."
Most of the revenue earned goes directly to Kim's personal account, the source said.
The North Korean practice of sending athletes overseas, however, may be nothing new despite the country's economic circumstances.
According to the source, North Korea began sending taekwondo masters overseas in the '80s, and in the '90s began appointing its best-performing football players to China and Europe for a fee.
In more than 10 countries, including Libya, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Laos, North Korea conducts athletic exchanges, sending football, martial arts and table tennis players for games and instruction.