SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- More than 200 North Koreans are still working in Libya, an official said Wednesday, despite ongoing violence between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
"Some 200 North Koreans are working in Libya as doctors, nurses and construction workers, and it appears that they haven't returned home yet," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The North Koreans are mostly working in deserts and other remote areas, which have not been directly affected by the six-month-long conflict, U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia said Tuesday, quoting an unidentified official at the South Korean embassy in Libya. The embassy was temporarily moved to Tunisia in May amid escalating danger.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs told Yonhap News Agency in April that Pyongyang ordered its people in the North African nation not to return home, apparently out of fear that they may spread news of anti-government uprisings across the Middle East.
Between the two Koreas, Pyongyang was first to establish diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1974.
Meanwhile, a total of 19 South Koreans remain in Libya and they have been confirmed safe, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.
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