Soroade Bakery

Pyongyang Papers has continued to investigate Korea Chinson General Corporation and their activities in Africa. Our previous article investigated a contract between the Nigeria company Skynext Services Ltd and Chinson in an obvious violation of UN Security Council resolutions which ban all member states from employing DPRK workers. The aim of this ban is to try and limit the funds heading back to the regime, where it is used to advance the North Korea nuclear & ballistic weapons program.

More Chinson activity in Nigeria

Korea Chinson General Corporation continue to provide North Korean workers to companies in Nigeria. Pyongyang Papers have been informed that Chinson have been supplying workers to the Soroade Bakery & Confectionery Company. Soroade are based at New Auditorium Road, Boun Village, Mowe, Ogun State and lists Husaini G Dumbarambe as its Director. Social media posting from late 2022 appear to verify our claim and shows North Koreans associated with the bakery enjoying some free time.

Social media posting showing North Korean workers in Nigeria

Chinson active in other African countries

Nigeria is not the only country that the Korea Chinson General Corporation actively look to send North Korean workers to. Ethiopia also appears to be lucrative for the company as they continue to exploit DPRK citizens in order to maker money for the regime. Our sources have also informed us of a contract between the Chinson office in Ethiopia & the Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation (ECDSWC). The contract was signed on 1 November 2022 and covers a two-year period for DPRK geophysicists, a Hydro-Mechanical engineer and a team leader/civil engineer. ECDSWC are an engineering company that was created by merging three companies together with the “commitment to the creation of knowledge base and provision of excelling & sustainable engineering solutions to the challenges of our people throughout Africa.”

In October 2016 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia announced that ECDSWC and the Korea Rural Corporation (KRC) from South Korea had signed a memorandum of understanding encouraging both sides to secure projects in which both are mutually interested. Pyongyang Papers is certain that the memorandum does not include hiring North Korean workers! Pyongyang Papers contacted the Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation about the contract but they did not reply.

Add the contract to the claims in the latest UN Panel of Experts report that an official from Chinson and an official from the DPRK embassy in Nigeria traveled to the Niger to collect hundreds of thousands of US dollars in cash, and bought the funds back to Nigeria. It becomes very clear that North Korea continues to find ways to circumvent sanctions and fund its nuclear & ballistic weapons program as ordinary citizens continue to suffer. Nigeria and Ethiopia are both UN member states and need to prove that they enforce the sanctions they are committed to.

As always, if you have any information North Korean sanctions evasion or Chinson, please get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page.

North Korean business deals with countries on the African continent is well documented and extensive. Pyongyang Papers has conducted several investigations looking at sanctions breaking in the region and this time we aim to shine a light on one country in particular – Nigeria

Nigeria relations

“Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” – Nigeria’s national motto. Unfortunately, North Korea does not share any aspects of this motto and would rather disorder, betrayal, conflict and decline. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and formally established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1976. In 2014, the two countries signed an economic cooperation agreement in the areas of knowledge exchange, information technology and public sector exchanges of modern technology. Both Nigeria and the DPRK maintain embassies in each other’s countries and as recently as 2022, the UN panel of experts were investigating information that suggested Nigeria were planning on purchasing $3.5 million worth of military equipment with the deal being brokered by the Haegumgang Trading Corporation. A weapons-trading entity belonging to the DPRK Ministry of People’s Armed Forces.

Current activity

Given Nigeria’s warm relationship with North Korea, it should come as no surprise that the DPRK regime continue to use the country as a means to generate revenue for their nuclear and ballistic weapons program.

One company that seems to feature quite heavily in Nigeria is Korea Chinson General Cooperation, who have been investigated in Nigeria previously. Pyongyang Papers have been made aware that UN sanctioned DPRK workers are working within blanket factories, tire factories, plastic bag factories and also a security company.

To add to this, our sources have also passed us a copy of a contract regarding a three year deal with a Lagos based company called Skynext Service Ltd to aid the construction and running of the Lagos rubber factory. The deal involves Chinson providing Skynext with a range of North Korean laborers including:

• Two structural design engineers
• Two interpreters
• Thirteen skills constructors
• Two heavy vehicle mechanics
• Twenty one rubber factory machinists

The contract is valid for three years and states it will be automatically renewed at the end of each three year period. We are still working to confirm the presence of the DPRK workers for Skynext as the contract also states “The parties further agreed to implement the contract … at a time when the global pandemic of COVID-19 has been resolved and the dispatch of experts from Chinson is possible. But will be valid until July 2023 at latest.” The contract was signed and dated by Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Musaddiq (representing Skynext) and Mr KO Yong Myong (representing Chinson) on 18th August 2022.

The contract lists the address for Skynext as 3 Avenue, Festac but our investigation suggests they may now be located at Commercial Road, Apapa in Lagos. Information regarding the company’s type of activity is limited but the contract and import information available online suggest they are in the manufacturing business. Pyongyang Papers reached out to Skynext directly for comment about their sanctioned activity but received no reply.

The future

With the North Korean borders beginning to open up it is highly likely that North Korean workers will begin moving around the globe again as DPRK companies look to fulfill contracts drafted during the pandemic, evade sanctions and raise funds to enable the regime to continue developing nuclear weapons. The contract between Skynext and Chinson proves that even when the North Korean border is sealed shut and ordinary citizens are believed to be starving, Kim Jong Un and the regime are still content to exploit ordinary DPRK citizens for their own despicable gains.

Pyongyang Papers aims to expose any sanctioned North Korean activity and relies on its sources. If you have any information in relation to this article or any other DPRK activity please get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page.

Pyongyang Papers has been investigating more North Korean sanctions breaking activity aimed at making money in Africa. According to the UN security Council, North Korea is estimated to run annual deficit of between $500million and $1billion. This is the amount of hard currency that North Korea needs to earn abroad each year to fund the regime and its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Each year North Korea generates an estimated $100 million of this in Africa.

You can read our previous investigations revealing the Republic of Congo, Ghana and Nigeria’s involvement in UN sanction breaking. Our current investigation focuses on another African country – Zambia. As of March 2023, Multiple North Korean workers are continuing to work in a number of companies and disciplines within Zambia.

This contravenes UN Security Council Resolution 2270 which requires direct member states to expel all foreign nationals (including DPRK citizens) who are determined to be working on behalf of a designated entity or otherwise assisting in sanctions evasion, and also resolutions 2375 & 2397 which prohibits member states from providing work authorizations for DPRK nationals in their jurisdiction in connection with admission to their territories and included repatriation of DPRK nationals by December 2019.

Korea General Corporation for External Construction (KOGEN)

One of the companies using North Korean laborers in Zambia is the Korea General Corporation for External Construction (KOGEN) or (GENCO). KOGEN is advertised on Naenara, the official DPRK web portal, as a professional overseas construction company, sending skilled workers and highlighting completed projects in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Russia, Libya and Mongolia. It has also created local branches, such as Zambia. They also known to use the names Chammae Construction Ltd and Gold Pick Construction Ltd. The business listing for Gold Pick Construction Ltd even states that the “main engineering team is from Korea”.

A promotional poster from a Gold Pick Construction Ltd business listing

KOGEN is a well-known entity to the United Nations Panel of Experts. Whilst investigating banks created to support investment or trade with North Korea, the UN uncovered a Malaysian company – Malaysia Korea Partners (MKP). KOGEN is only one of 13 MKP linked companies in Zambia. Using North Korean laborers who were paid pittance, MKP earned hard currency through construction projects, mining, trade in contraband coal and provision of security services. KOGEN, the North Korean entity for which MKP was acting as a front company, offered its services in Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire- and Nigeria as well.

Further investigation by the UN revealed that KOGEN’s activities were not limited to Africa. Evidence emerged of a joint venture in the UAE and of significant activity in Russia. From information provided by Zambia and further investigations by the Panel it has been concluded that KOGEN, like MKP, has links to Mansudae Overseas Project Group. Pyongyang Papers have previously investigated Mansudae Overseas Project Group for their involvement in construction projects across Africa.

Moksong Construction Company

Another company we have been informed is operating with North Korean workers in Zambia is Moksong Construction Company, which we believe to be the same entity as the company operating under the name Moksong Overseas Construction & Economic Technology Cooperation Company. In May, NK News released an article detailing Moksong Overseas Construction involvement in construction of a library in Lusaka, Zambia. According to the North Korean commerce website Manmulsang, Moksong has “agencies in several European and African countries to ensure prompt, satisfactory and comprehensive cooperation in the architectural technology on order.”

A copy of the Moksong listing from the Manmulsang website

Pyongyang papers are also aware of another three DPRK entities working in Zambia. These are: Medical Cooperation Delegation, Ecological Environment Technology Cooperation Delegation and DPRK Economic & Commercial Representative Office in Zambia. Our investigation into these companies is still ongoing- please contact us if you have any additional information of the companies listed.

Zambia has been a member of the United Nations since 1964 and have evidently assisted the UN Panel of Experts previously in their investigations into North Korean sanction breaking activity taking place within its borders. Unfortunately it clearly isn’t doing enough to uncover and disrupt the North Korean laborers that still reside and earn money for the DPRK regime. Zambia and other African countries need to seriously address sanctions evasion and attempt to stop the flow of funds back to North Korea. Funds that are being used by Kim Jong Un to develop, test and build weapons that can only ensure more instability in the region.

Despite UNSCR 2397 which prohibits North Korean citizens from working abroad, it is widely known that there is an extensive North Korean restaurant network continuing to fund the regime and its weapons program. With an estimated 130 North Korean state-run restaurants in big cities across the globe, Pyongyang Papers has already investigated several restaurants such as The Pyongyang Unhasu restaurant located in Phnom Penh, Big Sister Won’s restaurant located in Vientiane, along with a collection of restaurants in China.

Blue Flower Restaurant

NK News recently reported on the demise of the DPRK Restaurant industry in Cambodia. However, they name one business still operating who are downplaying any ties to the DPRK- the Blue Flower Restaurant and shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Pyongyang Papers can confirm that the Blue Flower Restaurant and shop is in fact owned and run by two North Koreans, Nam Un Gyong and her daughter Ri Son Chong.

The Blue Flower Restaurant and shop, as advertised on social media.

Restaurant workers

COVID-19 and the DPRK border closures halted the arrival of DPRK staff working at Blue Flower, and so Nam has had to hire some non-North Korean staff instead. It is well reported that North Korean workers abroad are subjected to poor living conditions, forced to give up their salaries and strictly controlled by their handlers. We wonder if these non-North Koreans treated as badly? Considering the state of most North Korean restaurants overseas, we can’t imagine that working at Blue Flower is much fun for these employees and we would encourage any worker or anyone who knows the workers to make contact with us to tell their side of the story.

The sanctions placed on DPRK have had a heavy toll on the North Korean economy, however due to non-compliance from several countries, North Korea still manage to illicitly source funding from overseas work. Although Cambodia has been a member state since 1955, the UN PoE have investigated North Koreans within their borders past the repatriation cut off in 2019. However in positive news, it now seems that the Cambodian authorities have requested that, due to UN Sanctions, Nam close the restaurant … we will of course keep a close eye on this to see if she complies!

Nam’s next venture

So what next for Nam and her daughter, will they return to the DPRK or remain in Cambodia and look to open another restaurant or other enterprises to earn revenue for the DPRK Regime? From our research, it appears Nam started a side business that sells fashion, sourced from Hong Kong. So even if the restaurant does appear closed, has she continued her side business too?! If anyone can get in contact with us at Pyongyang Papers about this shop, possibly located by the old Restaurant, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

Pyongyang Papers will continue looking in to the North Korean Restaurant industry and would like to uncover more truths around how they operate overseas. Any information you can share, please do get in contact.

The DPRK are well known for their dishonest, provocative and non-conforming nature. So its comes as no surprise that when Russia invaded Ukraine, a decision condemned by the world, Kim Jong Un publicly declared his support for Moscow.

Pyongyang Papers have been made aware of another sanctioned DPRK labor deal involving construction workers in Russia. This is not the first time we have investigated a deal of this nature – you can read our previous article here.

Perhaps surprisingly, Russia and North Korea have never had significant relationship. The DPRK is economically dependent on China, which currently accounts for over 90 percent of its total trade volume as well as most food and energy imports. Despite this economic dependence there is reportedly deep distrust between the two nations. China’s attempts to assert dominance over North Korea along with the North Korean regimes efforts to guard against Chinese influence have long generated tension between the two countries. Russia’s stance has always been to follow China’s lead, supporting the DPRK when they do, not supporting them when they don’t.

Pyongyang & Moscow

However, Russia needs help in the form of weapons. The EU have imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia in response to the war of aggression against Ukraine. These sanctions include visa measures, individual sanctions and economic sanctions including huge restrictions on the imports and exports between the EU and Russia. Which is why Russia is seeking an allegiance with the DPRK. The DPRK welcome this allegiance with open arms as it provides many benefits. Not only will a weapons deal with Russia help boost the ever flailing economy … it will also further antagonize the fraught tensions with the western world. A great result for Kim Jong Un!

In August 2023, Kim made the promise in a letter to Vladimir Putin that relations will be ‘further developed into a long standing strategic relationship’. He also went on to state the two countries are ‘fully demonstrating their invincibility and might in their struggle against imperialists’. This letter was followed by the recent summit held in Russia and was attended by Kim. Washington have warned Pyongyang against sending weapons to Russia, as this would violate UN sanctions that prevent arms shipments to and from North Korea – but breaking sanctions comes naturally to North Korea as we have seen on countless previous occasions.

Construction workers to Russia?

Our current investigation involves the DPRK Korea Sungri Chonji Trading Corporation and the Russia based KSK-Stroy Limited Liability Company (ООО КСК СТРОЙ) for the supply of 200 North Korean construction workers to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, Russia.

KSK-Stroy is a construction company that appears to have addresses all over Russia, with each location specializing in different construction types. The Khabarovsk KSK-Stroy’s activity appears to be mainly based on the construction of roads and highways and the Vladivostok company’s activity is engineering communications for water, sanitation and gas supply.

North Korean construction workers

Our sources have also found that the Russia firm ANO Digital Platform solicited a substantial number of North Korean laborers for construction projects in Moscow. Arseniy Shcheltsin is the CEO of ANO Digital Platform and this is not the first time he has been involved in something suspicious having previously been at the center of a scandal involving internet campaigning for the party in power. Pyongyang Papers wonders what use Shcheltsin could have for construction workers with his digital background?

Pyongyang Papers knows that nothing good can come from an alliance between two power hungry dictators such as Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin who prioritize their own political desires over the needs of their imprisoned citizens. We must unite to rid the world of their intolerable reign. Please contact Pyongyang Papers if you have any additional information on the companies listed in this article.

North Korean officials based overseas continue to break UN sanctions by brokering and facilitating deals, earning commision, so they can funnel money back to the regime and fund its nuclear weapons programme. UN Resolution 2270 states that all memeber states are to prohibit DPRK diplomats, government representatives (or DPRK nationals working in that capacity) from participating in joint ventures and any other business arrangements.

However, brokering deals is not a new money making scheme for the North Koreans- Pyongyang Papers have previously reported on illict deals facilitated by North Korean officials which you can read here. This time we are investigating a deal involving the brokering of oil between Russia and China.


DPRK acting as the middleman between two countries

Our sources have informed us that DPRK representatives based in Russia, are acting as middlemen to broker a deal for PRC-based company Yao He San Cai Petrifaction Limited for the purchase of Russian diesel fuel from Russian-based LLC RN-Komsomolsky Oil Refinery (RN-KNPZ). The deal is agreed for an initial time of 12 months with extensions. RN-KNPZ is located in Komsomolsk-On-Amur, Khabarovsk territory, which is near to the China-Russia border. Specializing in motor fuel and aviation kerosene, the plant was put into operation in 1942 under the integrated structure of Rosneft Oil Company and its crude distillation refinery capacity equals 46.9 million barrels per year.

LLC RN-Komsomolsk Refinery is the largest producer of oil and gas in the Samara region of Russia and the second largest Rosneft production unit after Yuganskneftegaz.


The North Koreans aren’t the only ones suffering the consequences of sanctions, LLC RN-Komsomolsky Oil Refinery has also been sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control amidst the Russian invasion on Ukraine.

Oil Imports


Chinese imports of Russian oil hit their highest level in May since the Ukraine invasion started in 2022. This could be down to the sanctions put on Russia and their import of oil is forcing them to sell for cheaper, or the fact that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin pledged to boost trade to $200 billion in 2023 when they hailed their no limits partnership. As previously reported by Pyongyang Papers, we all know that China doesn’t shy away from sanction breaking activities. The PRC based company, also known as Yaohe Sancai Petrochemical (Shandong) Co. Ltd, has the address of Room 202, office building No. 819, Tuanjie Road, Qingdao area, China (Shandong) and appears to own a gas station on Yucai Road, Linyi City. With no obvious presence online, this company has a capital of $586 million and its president, Chen Dan, is linked to 7 other companies! We wonder if any of these other companies are breaking sanctions too?


Why use these middle men?

North Korean intermediaries, or middle men, have played a key role in the facilitation of oil deals between Russia and China to provide a bridge between the finances. DPRK representatives are busier than ever and with Russian oil being cheaper, it helps to compensate using them – so a win for all of those involved. Although the North Korean intermediaries would probably be losing all their income to the Regime back in their homeland funding the WMD programme! Using these middle men also means that these deals can go under the radar as there wouldn’t be any direct communication between them. Making it easier to get away with!
If you know any more about this deal or the companies involved, please do get in contact with Pyongyang Papers. We are always very appreciative of any information our followers can provide us.

As Pyongyang Papers have previously reported, North Korea exporting coal new. As UN Security Council Resolution 2371 states: “The DPRK is prohibited from supplying, selling, transferring .. coal” and “All Member States are prohibited from procuring such material from the DPRK. by their nationals, or by using their flag vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the DPRK.” Of course, this hasn’t stopped China!

Is coal the ultimate export for North Korea

Our sources have told us that Chinese company called Smart Legend Management Limited (駿成管理有限公司), which may also be known as General Success management Limted has agreed nearly $7 Million to buy 100,000 tons of anthracite coal from Korea O-IL Trading Corporation, formally known as Korea 51 Trading Corporation. This isn’t the first time the company has been involved in sanction breaking activity as Korea 51 Trading Corporation was also mentioned in the August 2020 UN Panel of Experts report as they were involved in employment of 292 DPRK workers abroad.

In 2022, the DPRK smuggled in excess of 525,000 tons of coal to China confirming China’s disregard for the UN by repeatedly purchasing sanctioned goods and services from North Korea. China’s willingness to deal with the North Korean regime has not gone unoticed. Recently, the G7 countries plus three other countries collectively asked China to stop allowing North Korean sanctions evasion in its waters!

North Korea continue to export coal to their allies despite shortages of coal at home, causing hardship for their own population. Kim Jong Un even instructed in his 2019 New Year’s address that coal exports would be redirected for domestic use for North Korea to become self-sufficient. The income from their 5 billion tons of anthracite reserves must be worth much more to the regime via sanctioned exports than their own citizens energy supply. Pyongyang Papers believes the regime would rather earn money for its nuclear and ballistic missle program than help its own citizens!

So how do you deliver 100,000 tons of anthracite coal?

North Korea use multiple ship-to-ship transfers via the yellow sea from Nampo Port. The ship-to-ship transfers are an effort to avoid detection although it has been widely that sales have continued since the sanctions were imposed. It is also believed that they are getting braver with their exports and avoiding ship-to-ship transfers, with Chinese ships collecting the coal from Nampo port direct!

In 2021 Coal exports from North Korea to China rose due to severe shortages causing rolling blackouts in many parts of China. Sadly, for the two countries the 2022 total is down mainly due to the COVID pandemic positive cases within China throughout the year.

Going back even further, 38 North conducted analysis looking at satellite imagery of the coal mines in North Korea between 2015-2019. They found a considerable increase in activity with noticeable growth of spoil piles around the mines and improvements to transport system to get coal to ports like Nampo. These images show that the sanctions have not affected North Korea’s coal export industry and none of its infrastructure has collapsed. In January 2023 Korean Central News Agency announced that DPRK coal production had increased “by intensifying the ideological work to arouse the masses”!

Nampo-Tae-Phyong-2
Tae Phyong 2 docks at the North Korean port of Nampo – August 2021

Why China?

North Korea and China have a difficult relationship. Although they are allies their relationship has deteriorated with Kim Jung Un’s missile testing and deliberate timing close to big Chinese events. It is questionable why Kim Jong Un would decide to do this as China has a hand on North Korea’s economic power and stopping trade with them would be extremely disruptive. China could easily import their coal from other countries but due to political intentions and economic benefits for China, the risk of being caught sanction breaking is outweighed by the advantages. A North Korean defector told one news outlet that North Korea would only last a month without its trade deals with China! So, no wonder why the two countries are so keen to continue supporting each other.

If you know any more information about these coal deals and the companies involved in them, please get in contact with Pyongyang Papers through the ‘Contact Us’ page!

Opportunity – A situation or occasion which makes it possible to do something that you want. This definition perfectly sums up the efforts of the North Korean regime who will never look to miss an opportunity. Moral dilemmas are non existent when money is available and North Korea is happy to make money, even if it is at the expense of innocent lives!

Wagner – Beginnings & Expansion into Africa

The Wagner Group (Группа Вагнера) is a Russian paramilitary organization co-founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin & Dmitry Utkin. Before the failed wagner rebellion in June, Prigozhin was a Russian oligarch who controled a network of heavily influential companies including the Internet Research Agency & Concord Management and Consulting. Wagner appears to have substantial ties to the Russian state, operating in support of Russian interests and have been described as ‘a private army of Putin’

Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed he initially founded the Wagner Group to support Russian backed separatist forces in the Donbas region, Ukraine in 2014. By late 2015 Wagner were also involved in Syrian civil war and their efforts to expand their activities and influence have only continued with Wagner believed to still be active in many African counties including:

• Central African Republic
• Madagascar
• Libya
• Mozambique
• Mali
• Chad

Media reports suggest that Wagner are also heavily active in Sudan, a country currently being torn apart by two rival Sudanese generals fighting for control. Wagners previous interest in Sudan involved lucrative gold mining concessions as well as providing training and equipment to the security forces.

Recent reports by the Wall Street Journal claim that the Wagner group has offered heavy weapons to the leader of Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF), Lt Gen. Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo and a recent CNN investigation also details flight movements indicating the potential weapons drop to RSF by Wagner.

Wagner fighters have been accused of numerous human rights breaches including torture, rape, mass execution and child abduction. Their actions have seen them sanctioned by several countries and organizations including the EU & US.

Where do North Korea get involved?

As mentioned earlier the North Korean regime likes oppurtuunity and in this case it’s the opportunity to make money. And where there is war there is always opportunity. Pyongyang Papers has been investigating DPRKs sanction breaking activity on the African continent for a number of years and has a growing network of sources that are willing to supply us information.

North Korean activity in Africa is just as shady as Wagner and over the years the DPRK have found the continent of Africa a rich source of revenue. The type of activity in Africa is wide ranging & sanctioned. For example, our previous articles have highlighted North Korean medical workers across Africa & DPRK involvement in construction projects. Over the decades the DPRK regime has also offered more sinister services to African leaders.

A recent video emerged online depicting the RSF capturing weapons in Sudan that are believed to have originated from North Korea. Pyongyang Papers has also been informed that operating throughout Africa, Wagner is supplying DPRK sourced anti-aircraft missiles and mortars to rebel cells. With Wagner supplying the RSF with North Korean weapons and North Korean weapons being used by the Sudanese Armed Forces, this effectively means that North Korea has managed to arm both sides of the conflict. Proof if needed that the North Korean regime positions money generation for its ballistic weapons program above everything else. Even if the cost is hundreds or thousands of lives.

North Korean weapons currently in Africa?

North Korea has provided military assistance to many African countries over a long period of time. The assistance offered has ranged from training & advisors to pilots, specials forces and of course …. Weapons!
A recent example involves the Haegumgang Trading Corporation & Nigeria, who were planning to purchase $3.5 million worth of military equipment from North Korea in June 2021. This prompted an investigation from the UN Panel of Experts.

As recently as the end of March, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Ministry announced that it plans to resume diplomatic relations with North Korea and “focus on military equipment, mining, healthcare, agriculture and research”.

Wagner and North Korea

It has been widely reported that Wagner has purchased North Korean weapons for use in the Ukraine conflict. But with the ongoing conflict in Sudan and unstable alliances across several African countries, less visible in the public domain, the opportunity for the DPRK regime to make money and Wagner & Russia to further its interests in the region are just too good to ignore.

As always, if you have any information on DPRK sanctions evasion or would like to get in touch about one of our articles, please use the ‘Contact Us’ page.

North Korea citizens working overseas is banned under UN sanction resolution 2397 and all workers should have been repatriated by December 2019. Pyongyang Papers has investigated breaches of the resolution for several years and will continue to do with help from our sources. Recent reports indicate that thousands of workers still reside in China & Russia unsurprisingly, with many more waiting to travel as soon as the North Korean border reopens. For our latest investigation we looked into a number of companies involved in the exportation of DPRK labor.

Korea Namgang Trading General Corporation (NTC)

The Korea Namgang Trading General Corporation (NTC) is a sanctioned North Korean company that also uses the alias Ryongrim General Construction Corporation. NTC was sanctioned by the US for engaging in and facilitating the exportation of North Korean workers to generate revenue for the regime. Namgang are known to send their workers globally to countries like Russia, Nigeria and multiple countries in the Middle East. The March 2022 UN panel of Experts report detailed an entity called Korean Namgang Construction General Corporation (aka DPRK Ryongrim Overseas Construction Company) working with Chinese companies to send DPRK construction workers abroad. Pyongyang Papers wonders if NTC & the Korean Namgang Construction General Corporation are actually the same entity?

Pyongyang Papers has been informed that NTC also has links to a company in Russia called Stroytransgaz-Vostok (Стройтрансгаз-Восток) and are looking at a multi-million $ construction project to build a museum and theater. Stroytransgaz-Vostok is a Russian engineering construction company. The company is a subsidiary of the Stroytransgaz Group controlled by Gennedy Timchenko (Геннадий Тимченко) through his Volga group. Timchenko is known to be close friends with Vladimir Putin and has faced multiple sanctions from the US due to being a member of the Russian leadership inner circle. He has also had assets frozen due to the war on Ukraine. The Stroytransgaz Group has had previous contracts to build museums and theaters and has also been included in the contract to build a cultural center to build ties with Korea, China, and Japan.

Current construction of the cultural center in Vladivostok – Stroytransgaz

Other Russian companies employing North Korean workers

Stroytransgaz-Vostok isn’t the only company in Russia that North Korean workers are sent to – Russian companies that have completed contracts and have employed hundreds of DPRK workers in Russian clothing factories include:

  • Hoebul Company
  • Arovana
  • Russi (Chinamo)
  • Ratulango Clothing Company
  • Unistore Company
  • Energokontakt Company

We are still investigating the companies listed above and would be interested in any additional information available surrounding involvement with DPRK sanction breaking. These companies are located in Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Vladivostok.

The North Korean company involved in some of these deals is Korea Unha General Trading Corporation (조선은하무역총회사). This trading corporation is described as being the largest clothing processing trading company in North Korea. It has 110 factories and even owns its own trading ships! They are known to export clothing, raw materials for the textile and shoe industry, grain, gasoline, diesel oil & North Korean labor!

Countries like Russia and China continue to disobey sanctions and provide the North Korean regime with a constant flow of revenue which is used to fund the nuclear and ballistic weapons program. North Korea continues to launch and test its missiles at an alarming rate. Countries helping fund the regime need to be held accountable to help stop the regime from exploiting its own citizens. If you have any information about North Korean workers in Russian factories, or any of the companies named in this article, please do get in touch through the contact us page.

DPRK and African Flags

As we have written about previously, it is well known that North Korea send workers abroad to bring money home for the Regime. Pyongyang Papers have previously talked about Doctors relocating to Africa but for this investigation we are zoning in on Niger and Nigeria. It is known that these workers should have returned home by December 2019 due to sanctions, but one healthcare professional told NKNews that North Koreans are still working in Nigeria despite the ban on overseas DPRK labor. In Novemebr 2020, Nigeria told told the UN Panel of Experts that a group of 37 North Korean healthcare professionals were awaiting deportation but due to lockdowns their cases were stalled. Here at Pyongyang Papers, we wonder if these 37 individuals were ever sent back to their homelands.

What else are they up to?

It has been reported that a range of North Korean-style hospitals have been set up in different African countries and some of them even sell prescriptions for herbal medicines that were later found to contain dangerous amounts of poisonous heavy metals! Information has been passed to us that indicate that complints against the DPRK are on the increase.

Photo
An advert for Faris Hospital Ltd.

One DPRK physician at Faris Hospital Ltd., had his contract terminated due to serious malpractice. Pyongyang Papers are led to believe that this physician is actively looking for a new contract with a number of Nigerian hospitals.

Overseas postings are highly sought after and usually reserved for the upper classes – Doctors in foreign postings can earn $1000 per month with $800 of that going back to North Korea. In contrast, those in the restaurant industry only tend to earn a few hundred dollars with similar proportions being deducted. DPRK doctors also tend to b able to move around more freely and are not restricted to strict rules like those working in restaurants. So no wonder this physician is keen to remain in work abroad!

North Korea’s own healthcare system is in a poor state due to lack of food and drugs – people are self-medicating and are being forced to have amputations when the drugs needed to cure infections are not readily available.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits hospitalized survivors of horror bus  crash | CNN
Kim Jong Un visiting patients in hospital

Where is the money?

Lack of funds also appears to be an issue overseas after a prominent member of staff at the Niger Optical Services Co. LTD., hospital located in Igbo-Ukwu Ekwulobia, Nigeria, recorded a complaint to the Chief Representative of the DPRK Chinson General Corporation Representative Office in Nigeria. This was about the medical staff, who joined the srvice in 2019, not generating enough income for the optical service. Pyongyang Papers wonders how much these medical staff are making for the Regime! And if they are not generating money for the service, how long can they remain employed?

Due to a long-standing relationship between Africa and North Korea since the Cold War, and the fact the labor is highly skilled yet cheap, the country and companies within it seems to be ignoring the UN sanctions for their own gain. These health workers in Nigeria and the rest of Africa are in violation of UN security council resolution 2397, even in 2020 (after the workers should have been sent home) North Korea and Nigeria signed a public health cooperation agreement and the Nigerian Health Minister claimed that Nigeria had a desire to learn from North Korea in the sphere of public health – this is concerning to hear with links to malpractice!

If you have any more information about DPRK physicians and health workers in Nigeria, here at Pyongyang Papers, we appreciate anything you can provide us. Please get in contact.