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North Korea tech workers earn $20M for regime, U.N. report says

North Korea tech workers earn $20M for regime, U.N. report says
North Korean companies under U.N. Security Council sanctions are active overseas, a new report says. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 21 (UPI) -- North Korea is deploying freelance IT workers around the world to earn foreign currency for the regime, according to a recent report from the United Nations Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee.

The annual report from a panel of eight experts covers the period from Aug. 3, 2019 to Feb. 7, 2020. As Pyongyang adjusts to conditions under heavy sanctions, the regime could be turning to more creative ways to circumvent the economic embargoes, according to Voice of America's Korean service on Tuesday.

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The 267-page report includes evidence North Korea has been deploying high-skilled workers in IT and construction, mainly to China, but also to Vietnam, where Kim Jong Un met with U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019.

The Vietnam-based North Koreans are affiliated with the Sobaeksu Trading Co. Other IT workers service customers in China, Russia, Canada and the United States on an online basis, and without revealing their identities to clients, according to the U.N. report.

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North Korean IT workers earn an average of $5,000 per month. Of that amount, workers are obliged to submit about $1,700 to the North Korean government. Annually the state makes about $20.4 million from tech workers, the report says.

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Construction is another significant source of income for Pyongyang. The Mansudae Overseas Development Group, currently under U.N. sanctions, has been active in Senegal. The North Korean enterprise has been involved in public construction and building factories for major food processors, according to the report.

China is a receiving point for North Korean nationals, despite international laws against North Korean guest workers. The world's second-biggest economy has hosted 2,000 North Korean nationals who stay on short-term visitor visas.

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North Korea's Choson Computer Center, also known as Korea Computer Center, is the ultimate company responsible for operations at the Dandong Haotong Commercial Trading Co. North Korea's military is also overseeing the operations of the Yanbian Unsong Network Technology Co. in China's northeast, the report says.

North Korea's athletes abroad also earn income for the regime. Football players in Austria and Italy have been bringing in foreign currency used toward nuclear and ballistic missile programs, according to Yonhap.

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