March 31, 2017 12:56
A North Korean slave laborer died building a soccer stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for the 2018 World Cup, Norwegian football magazine Josimar reported Thursday. He was one of at least 110 North Korean slave laborers that toil at the building site.
Josimar and Western human rights groups are demanding that FIFA, the international football governing body, delve into abuses of the North Korean workers there.
Josimar found out about them when it was covering the construction of the Krestovsky Stadium, which was completed last month in time for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.
The North Koreans lived in containers set up in a waste ground 200-300 m from the stadium. They worked at the site from 7 a.m. till midnight every day without a day off, Josimar said.
Their passports had been confiscated and they were under surveillance around the clock, banned from contacting workers from other countries. The site was surrounded by iron fence and barbed wire. A Russian supervisor at the site said the workers were "like robots" and looked deeply unhappy.
They were referred by a North Korean broker, who offered last summer to provide 100 North Korean workers for about four months of work for 6 million roubles, saying there were ready to work for 24 hours a day.
Of that money, 4 million roubles would go straight to the North Korean regime, while the workers only got 600 roubles or about US$10 a day, the supervisor added.
The U.S. and South Korea are trying to end the export of North Korean slave labor abroad because the money earned goes to Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs, but they face opposition from China and Russia.
Instead, the Russian government sent a delegation to Pyongyang on March 16 to recruit North Korean workers for development projects in Siberia. The two countries reportedly agreed on March 22 to expand the number of North Korean workers in Russia.
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