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N. Korea summons workers from Kuwait after mass strike: report

2016/06/08 15:16

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has summoned dozens of workers from Kuwait for staging a mass strike in protest of their working conditions, a U.S.-based media outlet said Wednesday.

According to Radio Free Asia, dozens of North Korean construction workers in Kuwait went on strike in December after their North Korean employer offered to pay them with checks cashable in the North instead of wages.

"As people began to disobey orders and desert their workplaces, North Korean authorities belatedly took steps to tackle the issue," RFA said. "On May 17, they quickly summoned dozens of North Korean workers who had caused problems by resuming Air Koryo flights between Pyongyang and Kuwait, which had been halted on Feb. 23."

   In March, some North Korean laborers demanded they be paid properly when their employer urged them to earn more money to send to the Pyongyang regime ahead of a large congress of the North's ruling Workers' Party in May, RFA added.

North Korea is known to earn foreign currency by sending tens of thousands of workers abroad to countries such as China and Russia and parts of the Middle East.

Seoul's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said North Korea appears to be checking on the situation of its overseas workers.

"We think the strikes and various actions of North Korean workers abroad could be the result of sanctions on the country," ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said during a regular press briefing.

The North Korean regime is thought to be feeling the pressure of U.N. and other sanctions that were imposed on the country after its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in February.

In April, 13 North Korean employees of a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China escaped their workplace and defected to South Korea. Seoul officials said the rare mass defection showed that the U.N. sanctions were having an effect.

hague@yna.co.kr

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