North Korean restaurant workers in China receive COVID-19 vaccines, report says

North Korean restaurant workers in China receive COVID-19 vaccines, report says
North Korean restaurant workers in a northeastern Chinese city were seen waiting to receive COVID-19 vaccines, according to a South Korean press report Wednesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- North Korean restaurant workers in China are lining up to receive COVID-19 vaccines in a northeastern Chinese city, according to a South Korean press report.

A China-based source affiliated with a hospital in the city of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, said "dozens of North Koreans are waiting to be vaccinated" amid China's rollout of domestically developed vaccines, Yonhap reported Wednesday.


"I know that workers at a North Korean restaurant in Shenyang received the second dose this time after completing the first dose last month," the source said.

"At the time of the first vaccination, there was a long line of employees wearing clothes that looked like restaurant uniforms."

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China offers the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for free to Chinese citizens. Foreign nationals in the country must pay about $30 per dose.

A group of young women, likely North Koreans, were queuing outside a hospital in the Chinese city Wednesday, according to Yonhap's correspondent in China.

After receiving their vaccinations, the group boarded a van waiting for them outside the hospital, the report said.

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The predominantly female workforce serves as waitresses and also stage musical performances after meals. The restaurants were popular with South Korean tourists before the pandemic.


North Korea-operated restaurants in China were a key source of foreign currency for the regime before international sanctions. All United Nations member states were required to repatriate North Korean guest workers by the end of 2019.

China, a close North Korea partner, may have circumvented sanctions by issuing training or student visas to workers, according to Yonhap.

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North Korea has not publicly confirmed receipt of COVID-19 vaccines after requesting to receive 1,704,000 doses of vaccines from the World Health Organization's COVAX facility earlier this year.

The WHO reported that there are "zero cases" of COVID-19 in North Korea as of July 22, citing data from the North Korean government.

Pyongyang also said it tested a total of 34,580 people since the start of the pandemic. In the most recent round of tests from July 16 to 22, 109 people had "influenza-like illness" or "severe acute respiratory infections," the WHO's most recent South-East Asia Region Weekly COVID-19 Situational Report said.

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