Fifty four North Korean citizens who were working illegally in Nepal have been deported, according to a report from local media published on March 1.
The DPRK workers were sent to Nepal to help with blasting work for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, but did not get the necessary work permits and instead entered the country on tourist visas.
A spokesperson from the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Department of Immigration were handling the case, however no one from the latter organisation was able to comment on the news.
The report from Nepal’s Annapurna Post said that Nepali intelligence services found the North Koreans working illegally in the Sindhupalchowk District, near the country’s border with China.
When news broke of the North Koreans working illegally, the Nepalese authorities started a criminal investigation into the matter.
After requesting that the DRPK company involved desist in the illegal work, the workers were sent to Kathmandu. The company then failed to obtain work visas for the 54 North Korean workers, resulting in their deportation.
Having North Koreans work in abroad without the necessary paperwork appears to be relatively rare.
“As far as I know DPRK workers abroad generally have working visas processed for them by the host country,” Andray Abrahamian at Choson Exchange told NK News.
Recently, North Korean workers were also found in Malta, where they were supposed to work in a factory for a Chinese textile company, however arrived in country without the necessary permits.
“I guess both Nepal and North Korea tried not to be criticized by the international community, as these days, the North Korean overseas workers’ human rights situation has been revealed,” Shin Chang-hoon, director of the Center for Global Governance at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies told NK News last month.
The report from local media confirms that the DPRK citizens were hired due to previous military experience and training with explosives.
Whether or not this would constitute a breach of UN sanctions, which generally forbid the DRPK from exporting their military know-how is unclear. The uncertainty stems from there being no international consensus on explosives and if they constitute “arms and related materiel” in all circumstances.
According to local media, the North Koreans were working under difficult conditions with few safety measures in place. The new hydroelectric plant is being constructed in a region where 150 people were killed last year during a landslide.
The DPRK often sends citizens abroad to work in what are likely less than ideal conditions. There are currently 50,000 North Koreans employed throughout Asia, Russia and the Middle East. Various media outlets have reported that they are usually not paid directly, with their much of their salaries being funnelled back to the North Korean government.
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Featured Image: Kathmandu from Nagarjuna by Sharada Prasad on 2013-07-07 16:34:30