Fifty four North Korean workers helping with tunnel blasting for a hydroelectric plant in Nepal

north_korea_flagFifty-four North Koreans are currently working illegally in Nepal, helping with blasting work on a tunnel for a hydroelectric power plant, according to Nepalese media.

The article from the Annapurna Post claims that the DPRK employees have experience working with explosives due to their time in the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

The North Korean citizens have been in Nepal for a month and are currently working illegally on tourist visas, which could be a relatively new development for North Koreans working abroad. Previously, the North Korean government secured the necessary visas for overseas workers.

“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.

“As they are not legal workers, their salary must be lower than usual, and their human rights situation could be worse too,” said Shin, who has authored a report on North Korean overseas labor.

A representative from the Nepalese Foreign Ministry said that they were aware of the media reports and were investigating, but was not authorized to give further comment.

The article adds that the North Koreans are working under difficult conditions with few safety measures in place. The new hydroelectric plant is being constructed in Nepal’s Sindhupalchok region where 150 people were killed last year during a landslide.

North Koreans workers are often sent to work in dangerous environments abroad. Last November a DPRK citizen was killed during a tunnel collapse in a Malaysian mine, with another six sent to hospital.

Shin’s report for the Asan Institute said there are approximately 50,000 North Koreans working in foreign countries. The report established that DPRK citizens working abroad did not have standardized labor contracts and that the work was often not voluntary.

It is widely believed that North Koreans working in foreign countries are not paid directly, with their wages instead given to the DPRK government, who issue small stipends for daily expenses.

Last month, it was reported that North Korean workers had made it as far as Malta, where they were employed in a textile factory making clothes for many top European brands.

Source : NK News