January 13, 2016 12:14
A North Korean expatriate worker burned himself to death in Vladivostok on the morning of New Year's Day, according to the local press.
On the early morning of Jan. 1, the charred body of the construction worker in his 40s was found in the yard of an apartment complex on a street in Vladivostok. Footage on YouTube shows fire fighters spraying the man with fire extinguisher. An autopsy revealed no signs of foul play.
Police found a suicide note in Korean that was apparently written the previous night. "I'm tired of hard work every day. I blame nobody for my death," it said. Police concluded that the man doused himself in flammable liquid and set himself on fire.
There are about 50,000 North Korean workers in 17 countries, mostly construction workers. The largest proportion, or 20,000, are in Russia, some 2,000 in Vladivostok.
Locals were shocked because North Korean workers in Vladivostok are more disciplined and commit fewer crimes than those from the former Soviet republics.
The expatriate workers often work 12 to 16 hours a day and take only a day or two off each month under the watchful eyes of North Korean security agents. They get only 10 to 20 percent of their pay while the rest goes to the regime and bribes for supervisors.
North Korean workers in Russia are suffering more than those elsewhere because the ruble has plummeted over the past year in the wake of international economic sanctions caused by Russia's annexation of Crimea of Ukraine and drops in oil prices.
According to an estimate by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, some 50,000 North Korean workers are earning up to 2.5 trillion won annually. They are making up for a considerable portion of the shortfall caused by international sanctions against the North.
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