There are many images of Kim Jong-Un enjoying a ride in a luxury sanctioned vehicle in recent years and the shops in Pyongyang appear to be filled with watches, champagne and high-end technology. It seems that despite sanctions on luxury goods, the DPRK is still able to overcome these to guarantee the best experiences for the elite or those willing to pay for it. Pyongyang Papers first reported on North Korea’s illicit luxury goods trade back in 2018, where we detailed North Korean brokers sourcing luxury goods for the elite whilst normal citizens within the country were struggling with fuel shortages that were crippling food supplies.

Breaking the rules

According to the Panel of Experts 2020 midterm report and the recent final report in March 2021, luxury vehicles have been found within the DPRK despite efforts by the manufacturers to try and stop this from happening. Manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz and Toyota (Lexus) have had their vehicles found in the country. Both UN reports mention Mercedes-Benz S-Class 600 Sedan Long Guard VR9s specifically and the final report adds Lexus vehicles to this list of sanctions breaking behavior. It seems that the Mercedes-Benz vehicles passed through multiple countries including Italy & the Netherlands to make it from the manufacturer and eventually into the DPRK.

It seems that this method of sanctions evasion is still ongoing! A source close to the supply chain confirmed to Pyongyang Papers that a shipment of luxury goods and vehicles, including several newly manufactured Lexus 570 SUV’s and a Mercedes-Benz AMG, along with more UN sanctioned goods worth in excess of $1.2 million was due to be delivered to Ningbo Beilun, China with onward travel to the DPRK. This is in breach of the UN resolution prohibiting the sale of luxury items to the DPRK. Ningbo Beilun has an international port which has been heavily invested in by the Chinese government, also showing a continued increase in revenue over time. Clearly it is getting well used by the DPRK!

Kim Jong-Un has been seen, in recent years, showcasing several Mercedes limousines as well as a Rolls Royce Phantom and Lexus. Add to this the images of Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol-Ju, carrying handbags made by Chanel and Dior. This is in complete contrast to the citizens of North Korea who are facing potential famine under the current situation in the country. Despite offers, the DPRK has refused international aid meant to help fix this humanitarian crisis. It is unfortunate that whilst these citizens suffer through the pandemic, the elite in DPRK are able to obtain seemingly vast quantities of luxury goods.

China and the DPRK

The relationship between China and the DPRK has not been straightforward during the period of enforced sanctions on DPRK. China voted in favor of United Nations sanctions against DPRK when the country carried out its first nuclear test even through the two countries signed the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty in 1961. The treaty encourages economic cooperation between the two countries and could explain why it is common for China to have been found facilitating DPRK breaking sanctions along with the financial reward they will gain from the transaction. China is the largest trading partner of the DPRK which might also explain this illicit behavior!

Routes to smuggle DPRK sanctioned items have frequently involved China, as seen in the recent case of Lim Cheng Hwee, who was jailed for supplying alcohol to North Korea. Another report written by C4ADS in 2019 describes the techniques and lengths the regime are willing to go to evade sanctions and get luxury goods into the DPRK. This includes Mercedes vehicles being shipped through China!


As always, if you have any information about evasion of DPRK sanctions, please get in contact with Pyongyang Papers.

In December 2017, The UN Security Council implemented resolution 2397 as the DPRK regime were generating foreign export earnings to fund its ongoing missile related activities. The Security Council determined that the DPRK continues to exist as a clear threat to international peace and security and so the sanction was implemented requiring all member states to prohibit any North Korean nationals from engaging in business in foreign countries. At the same time the December 2019 deadline was agreed for the repatriation of all North Korean workers back to the DPRK.

Ballistic Missile Program

North Korea has had a keen interest in developing nuclear weapons since the 1950’s and the ballistic missile program initiated under the Kim dynasty continues today under Kim Jong Un’s regime. North Korea has developed and tested a number of new missiles since Kim Jong Un became leader in 2011, including tests of various models of solid fueled short range ballistic missiles taking place in recent years.

A North Korean missile launch – March 2020

Although you would think that countries within the UN would be fully on board with efforts to prevent the DPRK’s ballistic missile program, along with the threat of penalties for defying the UN enforced sanctions, this is unfortunately not the case. Pyongyang Papers has continued to investigate companies working with North Korea in illicit activity, no doubt hoping to go unnoticed.

UAE Residency Permits

Pyongyang Papers sources have received information that the Korea Kumgang Company, also known as Korea Konggang Company, employees Ri Jun MIn and So In Chol both received United Arab Emirates residency permits. Our sources understand that this was preparation for over 100 DPRK workers to travel to United Arab Emirates, which in turn would continue to provide the DPRK regime with foreign export earnings to fund its ballistic missile program.

The UAE has always been a strong ally of the US. However, it doesn’t seem that the UAE is carrying out their promise that they would no longer be issuing visas to North Korean nationals, as claimed by the UAE Foreign Ministry back in 2017.

Laos and Nepal

Pyongyang Papers has also received information that Ri Jun Min and So In Chol have been busy brokering another overseas worker deal, this time using the Nepal DPRK Embassy as a conduit to a Laos Government official to supply over 1000 workers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that the workers are still in North Korea with their cases packed waiting to travel!

Although it could be surprising that the UAE are violating sanctions, the same cannot be said for Nepal and Laos. According to a 2019 article describing the repatriation of North Korean workers, the Nepali communists have always had an admiration for the Workers Party of Korea and they view North Koreans as courageously fighting the imperialists, aligned to their own ideologies.

Only now has unrelenting American pressure to enforce UN sanctions against Pyongyang distanced Nepal from their North Korean comrades. The same article reports that most North Korean businesses in Nepal have been shut down and the workers sent home. The UN in Nepal had expressed worry that the North Korean businesses were sponsoring Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development program.

Laos Cooperation Agreement

According to press releases in April 2020 the Foreign Ministries of Laos and North Korea signed a new cooperation agreement in Vientiane to replace the previously expired one. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) called it an agreement that ‘would make an important contribution to further consolidating and developing the friendly relations’. Laos also maintains an embassy in Pyongyang.

It seems no matter what sanctions are thrown at the DPRK, they always seem to find a way to evade them. However, this is only possible due to the help they receive from other countries who also violate the sanctions despite the pledged effort to denuclearize the DPRK. It is worrying that these countries seemingly prioritize the financial reward from these transactions above international peace and security, rather than standing up to the regime and its attempts to evade sanctions.

If you have any additional information about the Korea Kumgang Company or any other North Korean sanctions evasion please contact Pyongyang Papers.

A relationship between North Korea and Cambodia has been in place since 1965 when Cambodia’s Norodom Sihanouk met Kim-Il Sung. Even after Sihanouk lost his power in government the DPRK was still supportive. They built a palace for him and even provided bodyguards when he became king and returned to Cambodia. In more recent years the DPRK has invested in Cambodia’s Angkor Panorama Museum. The museum’s director Yit Chardaroat stated to Aljazeera “63 artists toiled for more than a year to complete the panorama”. The artists came from North Korea which designed, built and bankrolled the $24m project through the Mansudae Art Studio. According to the article, the first 10 years of profits are going straight to North Korea.

However the first sign of cracks in the country’s relationship started to appear a few years ago. Forbes reported that Cambodia rejected an official visit from North Korea’s Foreign Minister back in 2016. This was followed by reports of Pyongyang sending North Korean assassins to Cambodia to conduct terror attacks against South Koreans as well as the emergence that the Kim Jong Nam murder suspects used Cambodia for 3 practice runs of the attack. The relationship was certainly failing when other DPRK officials were also denied access. Perhaps all this was a result of North Koreas reckless approach to weapons, or it constant attempts to avoid sanctions and deny human rights abuses. Cambodia were certainly not only country to be severing ties.

A Change in Relationship

It appears the relationship between the two countries is now falling apart. The Korean Herald reported in January 2020 that Cambodia had shut down 7 North Korean businesses in the country, including the Angkor Panorama Museum which was staffed by North Koreans. This is all result of UN sanctions. Pyongyang Papers has also learned that as part of this crackdown North Korean IT workers are relocating to China from Cambodia. This just adds to the volume that are present in China. It is estimated that around 50,000 North Korean laborers are still in China which has been citing COVID-19 as the excuse for not repatriating these illegal workers.

The Angkor Panorama Museum

Our sources have revealed a group of IT developers led by an individual called Hwang Ju Yong have been forced to leave the country by the Cambodian government, along with other North Korean workers in Cambodia. They were working for the Chongsin Information Technology Company, based in Pyongyang. The majority of North Koreans in Cambodia have relocated to Yanji in North Eastern China. According to the UN Panel of Experts midterm report, hundreds of workers access to China was sponsored by the sanctioned entity Yanji Silver Star Network Technology Company LTD.

China Still Aiding Sanctions Evasion

Clearly, the DPRK and China still have no intention of abiding by the current sanctions. With North Korea benefiting from its workers abroad it looks like they will use whatever means necessary to generate revenue and China are happy to support this relationship. It has recently been reported that a 10 day quarantine process in designated accommodation has been set up in the Jilin Province facing the North Korean border. This is specifically for North Korean workers and proves that even with huge potential risks posed to its citizens the DPRK is happy to ignore sanctions in the pursuit of money for the regime.

Do you have information about Cambodia’s involvement with the DPRK? If you have any information about this or North Korean sanctions evasion please get in touch with Pyongyang Papers.

Radio Free Asia reported last year on the state of North Korean workers abroad and specifically Africa. Their appropriately titled piece says it all – “North Korean Workers Remain in Africa Months After Sanctions Deadline To Repatriate”. They referred to Tunisia’s repatriation report following sanctions on North Korea, where it was stated that most African countries were ignoring sanctions. The deadline for UN member states to repatriate North Korean workers passed over year ago on 22 December 2019.

It is well known that many African countries have maintained close ties with North Korea, with previous reports describing major construction projects in Africa including monuments, museums, government buildings and weapons factories, and even training for soldiers and police officers. The line between military and construction projects in such a bilateral relationship is often blurred and is well described in “People for Profit: North Korean forced labor on a global scale“. When both parties are engaged in acts that are mutually beneficial it is no surprise to hear of them ignoring UN sanctions. This certainly appears to be the case with a Togo based company – (Societe) Alzema SARL. According to business listings, Alzema SARL is registered in Lomé – Togo

Lome
Lomé – Togo

Alzema SARL

Pyongyang Papers has been informed that a number of DPRK medical staff are currently working in Togo for the organization Alzema SARL. Alzema SARL are headed by Alassane Yatabare, who is listed as the Company Director General. The company specializes in construction materials and also has links with the mining sector. Pyongyang Papers believes that the medical staff are supplied by the DPRK Moranbong Medical Cooperation Company as required.

Pyongyang Papers has reported previously about North Korean doctors in Africa. Is the provision of medical staff into construction companies with ties to mining a way to maintain links in this area, perhaps for future proliferation of staff? Or maybe Alzema SARL have branched into medical provisions. We know from previous UN Panel of Experts reports that North Korea has sent mining representatives abroad in the past.

With political, economic and military incentives for Africa and North Korea it is clear to see the reason companies and the regime are so keen break sanctions and exploit workers abroad. However, this is the first time Pyongyang Papers have heard about them doing this under the name of God.

Links to the Church?

Our sources indicate that North Korean doctors Han Yong Il and Hwang Yun Bin met with the Togolese Ministry of the Interior thanks to Churches of the Evangelical Ministry of the Works of God of Togo who set up the meeting.

The irony of the DPRK links to churches does not escape Pyongyang Papers. Christianity is not something that openly ventures into North Korea, not publicly anyway without harsh consequences. The DPRK is described as being an atheist state, with no real freedom of religion. According to the 2021 World Watch list, North Korea is the worst offender for persecution against Christians. A position it has held for 20 years in a row! So, using churches to facilitate meetings proves the lengths the regime will go to avoid sanctions and achieve its ambitions.

Are you aware of any other church involvement helping evade sanctions against North Korea? Or if you have information on any other North Korean sanctions evasion please get in touch with Pyongyang Papers.

This year has seen a pandemic affect the whole world, infecting over 66 million people and resulting in excess of 1.5 million deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. There are very few countries unaffected by COVID-19. With one of these exceptions being North Korea who have recently taken offense to South Korean remarks by an official! Pyongyang Papers questions how the DPRK has managed to avoid what has been described by some as the worst pandemic the world has ever seen? Is it realistic that a country of over 25 million people sharing a border with the rumored country of origin has escaped without any cases or is this claim just propaganda? Pyongyang Papers has investigated this story!

According to the UN Panel of Experts midterm report, the DPRK responded rapidly to the COVID-19 outbreak with border closures and enforcing severe quarantine measures on thousands of its citizens. Flights to and from China and Russia were suspended in late January, except for a single flight to Vladivostok on 9 March. Passenger rail services to China and Russia were also suspended at around the same time, as was cross-border road transportation – immobilizing the DPRK’s economic lifeline.

Vladivostok

Even if the unlikely claims that there have been zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 within North Korea are true, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the North Koreans based overseas. Pyongyang Papers has been informed that North Korean citizens working illegally overseas in Vladivostok, Russia, have contracted COVID-19 and that many more are in quarantine. Issuing work permits to nationals of the DPRK is currently prohibited due to the regimes continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, with Russia citing prevention of travel due to COVID-19 as their justification for non-compliance with UN sanctions.

Instead of helping their citizens and providing healthcare, North Korean officials have apparently grown angry with their citizens and issued a stern warning to keep the virus away from North Korea. It seems it is too late for those poor North Korean workers already infected, as North Korean officials are now demanding extreme measures from the infected citizens in Vladivostok. No doubt to ensure that North Korean workers illegally in Russia are not identified, in the future, as the way that COVID-19 entered the DPRK.

Vladivostok view
An image of Vladivostok

DPRK Healthcare

North Korea claims to provide universal healthcare with a national medical service and health insurance system that is all offered for free, however this claim is widely disputed by North Korean defectors. They claim that patients must pay for all health care services and that the upper classes have a higher standard of health care. “How much money a patient has determines whether they live or die”.

Neurologist Choi Jung Hun, a North Korean defector, disputes Kim Jong Un’s claims that North Korea has not had a single case of COVID-19, believing that the deadly virus entered the country prior to the closure of the 1400Km shared border with China at the end of January. When asked the motive behind the DPRK falsifying this information, Choi stated “The healthcare system is very weak. They don’t want to show that to the world”. Instead the DPRK have been quietly seeking help from China, Russia and other UN agencies. Lack of basic medical supplies, equipment, sanitation and access to water are just a few of the difficulties that the DPRK could face in this aggressive war against COVID-19.

Tripoint Memorial in Fangchaun, China
The Tripoint Memorial in Fangchaun, China

The Regime

More importantly it is not only the rest of the world that the DPRK wants to fool with their claims, it also wants to uphold the following of its own population. As Dr Choi states “If it becomes clear that the health care system cannot take care of the people then they will lose confidence in their government. It would mean the system is not infallible”.

It is well documented that the North Korean regime mistreats its workers abroad. Pyongyang Papers has previously published an article investigating the regime refusing permission for severely ill workers abroad to receive treatment. The regime views its illegal workforce abroad as a means to make money to be sent back to Pyongyang and continues to show a total disregard for human life, even during a global pandemic!

If you have any information about evasion of DPRK sanctions, please get in touch with Pyongyang Papers.

Nampo Port

After our previous article, Pyongyang Papers has been investigating more information regarding Tsoi Ming Chi and his lucrative trading business with the DPRK! After the success supplying refined petroleum to North Korea, Tsoi was so keen to continue trading he used his own tanker the Bonvoy 3 to break international sanctions!

The Bonvoy 3

The Bonvoy 3 (IMO 8978784) is listed in the most recent Final UN Panel of Experts report as not having a known flag and illicitly delivered refined petroleum to Nampo, North Korea on at least 2 occasions between August and September 2019. Pyongyang Papers has been informed that the IMO number listed on the UN Panel of Experts Report is incorrect and Tsoi’s Bonvoy 3 tanker actually sails under IMO 8714085. According to vessel tracking resources this tanker is sailing under the flag of Fiji.

Still Active?

The Bonvoy 3 also features in the UN Panel of Experts midterm report where it is listed with other foreign flagged vessels to have continued deliveries of refined petroleum between January and May 2020. The report states that the Bonvoy 3 and the other vessels are liable to seizure when they enter ports or territorial water of other states.

The report details evasion methods used by vessels and their owners supplying the DPRK. They include AIS manipulation and flagging. AIS manipulation can include displaying suspicious behavior such as transmitting falsified or inconsistent identifiers or reporting false destinations. This can also involve the ship being falsely flagged, using a flag after removal from the country’s registry or using a flag without authorization. These are just some of the ways the DPRK are managing to evade the sanctions limit on imports!

More information about the Diamond 8 has also been uncovered during our investigation. A source close to the Sierra Leone Maritime authority has informed us that this tanker has been de-flagged, had its registry cancelled and fines were issued to Tan Jeok Nam who is the listed owner. The Diamond 8 was seen delivering to Nampo on several occasions until 24 March this year.

Diamond 8 participating in illicit activity – Panel of Experts report

The recent Midterm report details substantial breaches of petroleum sanctions that are only contested by China and Russia on technicalities. It is clear that businessmen like Tsoi are able to exploit the current sanctions enforcement practices for profit whilst supplying a regime that is adept at illegal activity.

If you have any information about North Korean sanctions evasion then please get in touch with Pyongyang Papers.

Following on from our previous article, Pyongyang Papers has been informed and investigating more sanctions breaking activity involving crude and refined oil being sold to the DPRK illicitly. Since 2017 oil imports to North Korea have been sanctioned to 500,000 barrels a year by the UN because of the DPRK’s continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. A recent report indicated that the DPRK has easily breached the 500,000 barrel limit.

Alex

Pyongyang Papers has learned that in March this year an individual called Tsoi Ming Chi illegally procured refined petroleum for the DPRK. Tsoi, also known as Alex to his friends, is a Chinese businessman who used to work as the director of Sure Metro Limited (順國際有限公司) registered in Hong Kong.

Avoiding detection

Importing sanctioned items to North Korea does not appear to be a problem for Tsoi. Our investigation has revealed that Tsoi worked with a company called Winson Oil to purchase oil to be sent to the DPRK. The oil was transported using the Sierra Leone flagged tanker called the Diamond 8 (IMO 913612). The ship is listed as an oil/chemical tanker and was most recently recorded in the East China Sea according to tracking data online.

The Diamond 8 tanker

The most recent UN Panel of Experts report states the Diamond 8 delivered refined petroleum at Nampo, North Korea shortly after registering under a new owner and the Sierra Leone flag. The report also states that an unspecified company in Indonesia is listed as the ships manager and operator. The Panel of Experts report recommends the Diamond 8 is designated for violating sanctions. Clearly this ship and its owners not been playing by the rules!

The Diamond 8 received the oil through a ship-to-ship transfer from a tanker named Super Star (IMO 9085388). Super Star has had many names previously including Ocean Princess and has sailed under many different flags including Belize and Liberia. Changing ship names and flags is a common tactic used when conducting illicit activity and trying to avoid detection. Pyongyang Papers has also learned that the Diamond 8 did not take its cargo straight to the DPRK, some of the oil was loaded from the Diamond 8 to another Sierra Leone flagged oil products tanker An Ping, which also headed off to the DPRK separately.

Winson oil is a major energy trading company that offers trading and supply chain services in Asia. The official address is listed as being in Singapore and the company website states they have partnerships in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, China and Timor-Leste! The company website also mentions its stable relationships with major Asian refineries. This may help explain how they are able to aide sanction evaders so easily!

Transfers at Sea

Ship-to-ship transfers are a common technique used by entities to evade sanctions to supply as well as help the DPRK regime export commodities including coal. It has been reported that at least 2.8 million tonnes of coal were passed to Chinese barges via ship-to-ship transfers between January and August 2019. And with businessmen like Tsoi and large companies like Winson oil happy to help in search of profit, the DPRK is continuing to find ways to avoid sanctions at sea.

Please contact Pyongyang Papers if you have any information sanctions evasion or illicit DPRK activity.

Oil is an essential commodity to any country including North Korea. Crude and refined oils is heavily used in all aspects of industry including agriculture and energy production. North Korea has access to very little of its own oil reserves currently so it relies on imports of oil to be refined at places like the Ponghwa Chemical Factory. Since 2017 oil imports to North Korea have been sanctioned to 500,000 barrels a year by the UN because of the DPRK’s continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Considering previous form of sanction evasion by North Korea, unsurprisingly, earlier this year reports surfaced suggesting that the North Korean regime had breached its cap on oil imports. In July 2020, a letter to the UN Security Council suggested that North Korea imported more than 1.6 million barrels of oil in the first 5 months of 2020 alone!

Good news

In October 2017 a Russian oil company NNK-Primornefteprodukt was placed under US sanctions for its oil business dealings with North Korea. The company, a subsidiary of the Independent Petroleum Company (IPC) had reportedly shipped over $1 million worth of petroleum products to North Korea at the time. The company and its subsidiaries were removed from the sanctions list in March 2020 because the company had guaranteed it was no longer working with North Korea.

The NNK-Primornefteprodukt facility in Vladivostok, Russia

Return to form

Unfortunately the lure of money has proved too much for NNK-Primornefteprodukt. A source close to the company, who declined to be named, has informed Pyongyang Papers that NNK-Primornefteprodukt have, as recent as June this year, started shipping oil back to the DPRK. Our investigation suggests NNK-Primornefteprodukt were the company shipping the oil and were using the Cameroon-flagged tanker “Gold Star”. The cargo was loaded from the NNK facility in Vladivostok, Russia and a few days later rendezvoused with a sanctioned DPRK tanker “Yu Son” and performed a ship to ship transfer.

The Yu Son tanker

The signs are worrying. The latest UN Panel of Experts report states “the DPRK increased procurement , including through a notable increase in these larger foreign flagged tankers directly delivering to the country on multiple occasions”. If companies like NNK-Primornefteprodukt are willing to deal with the DPRK so soon after being removed from the sanctions list, Pyongyang Papers wonders is there any way to stop companies dealing with North Korea and the DPRK breaching sanctions on oil imports? If you have any information on evading the DPRK sanctions, please contact us.

Pyongyang Papers have been investigating lawsuits that North Korean workers are still being sent abroad in large numbers to, among other countries, Russia. VOA has disclosed similar lawsuits in the February article. Our investigation has found that a North Korean company was arranging a contract with a Russian company in late October 2019 to send 50 North Korean workers to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia.

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is a city and an administrative center of the island of Sakhalin in the far east of Russia. It is most famous for its gas reserves and remaining Japanese architecture. The Russian company in question is Realssuttroy Limited Liability Company. Located at number 28, 4th Zarechnaya Street, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. +79621238585. Unfortunately, the images available on Yandex don’t seem to offer many clues to current employment at the location.

DPRK Labor

DPRK Moksong Foreign Construction and Economic Technology Cooperation Agency developed the contract with Realssuttroy Limited Liability Company. The contract authorized Moksong to send 50 North Korean workers to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to work in the seafood industry. Pyongyang Papers wonder if this is because of widespread illegal fishing in North Korean waters by the Chinese.

The December deadline to evict North Korean workers has long since passed. Pyongyang Papers wonder if the workers are still in Russia? And if they are using tourist or student visas as this seems to be the current trend. The Reuters article disclosed that Russia issued the 16,613 student and 10,345 tourist visas last year. Compared to 2,035 student visas and 2,610 tourist visas granted to North Koreans in 2018.

If you have any information on evading the DPRK sanctions, please contact us.

DPRK Laborers

With the UN Security Council’s repatriation deadline well past in December 2019, many countries around the world have sent DPRK workers back to North Korea. The North Korean regime, which makes millions of dollars in funds generated by workers overseas, is of course seeking ways around this. One way is through the use of student visas.

A familiar face

The DPRK has been attempting to send huge numbers of workers into Russia using educational visas, to work in construction, IT and clothing production. Remember Jong Song Hwa? Jong featured in our previous article about Vladivostok. Pyongyang Papers has received information that Jong has used educational visas to sneak IT workers into Russia. In fact, according to the latest UN Panel of Experts report, Russia issued 3,611 more student visas to DPRK nationals in third quarter 2019 than in the same period in 2017. From first to third quarter 2017, 162 DPRK national received Russian student visas. The figure for the same period in 2019 was 7,162!

Russian help

Pyongyang Papers has also learned that other workers have obtained educational visas at the invitation of Russian firms. An immigration specialist that wishes to be anonymous informed PP that a North Korean company allegedly acquired documents for its employees that included Russian student visas and student ID cards issued by the European Institute JUSTO. As well as a contract for a field training class for the JUSTO students with the Russian companies Stroy Service LLC and Stroygrand 71 LLC which indicated that the students would be used as labor.

Poor Russia, it has been put in a difficult place. It has been trying to appear compliant with UN sanctions on Pyongyang but stated that efforts to repatriate the remaining DPRK laborers have stalled due to the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time Russia has been doing a fair amount for North Korea recently and has sought to continue its labor cooperation with DPRK.