‘Almost all’ North Korea guest workers repatriated, Russia says

Jan. 16 (UPI) — Russia’s foreign ministry says Moscow is complying with United Nations Security Council sanctions and has returned most North Korean guest workers in the country.

Pyotr Ilichev, director for the foreign ministry’s department for international organizations, said in an interview with Russian news agency Interfax the Russian government has dismissed almost all North Korean workers in accordance with a Security Council resolution.

North Korea is under the heaviest sanctions in its history. In 2017, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2397, which includes a ban on North Korean overseas labor.

Ilichev said all contracts with North Korean workers are “finished” since December 2019. There are no North Koreans in employment in Russia at present, the Russian official said.

Ilichev added North Korean workers remain in Russia because of the insufficient number of flights available.

In December, Japanese television network NHK reported dozens of workers were entering Russia at Vladivostok International Airport a day after a Dec. 22 sanctions deadline.

The status of North Korean workers is also unclear. In China, North Korean workers in Pyongyang-run restaurants take “visa runs” to border cities to prolong their stays, according to multiple South Korean press reports.

On Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump suggested China is an important partner on North Korea policy.

During the signing of a partial trade deal with China, Trump said Beijing is supporting U.S. efforts.

“China is helping us with North Korea,” Trump said. “China is helping us with a lot of the things that they can be helping us with — which you don’t see in a deal, but they have been very, very helpful with respect to Kim Jong Un, who has great respect for President Xi.

“And it’s all a very, very beautiful game of chess, or a game of poker, or — I can’t use the word ‘checkers’ because it’s far greater than any checker game that I’ve ever seen. But it’s a very beautiful mosaic.”