Friday, March 8, 2024

Moscow Using Slave Labor from North Korea in the Russian Far East

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 4 – North Korea’s supply of weapons and ammunition to Vladimir Putin for his war in Ukraine has attracted widespread attention, but Pyongyang has another “export” to the Russian Federation that has not: the dispatch of North Korea forced laborers to the Russian Far East.

            Most such North Korean slave laborers go to China, as documented by Ian Urbina in a comprehensive article in The New Yorker (, but some are now working inside the Russian Federation in the Far East.

            Drawing on Urbina’s article and its own sources, the Meduza news agency documents this phenomenon, one Moscow has gone out of its way to hide given that Russia is a notorious center of modern slavery (

            That Moscow should take this step highlights both Putin’s Stalinist proclivities and the demographic collapse of the Russian nation especially east of the Urals and along the Pacific coast. Putin likely sees nothing wrong with the use of such North Koreans, and Russia has ever fewer choices on how to maintain the economy of the Far East and Moscow’s control there.

            Indeed, in what can only be described as a paradox, the Kremlin leader may have convinced himself that the use of North Korean slave labor is one of the best ways he can defend that portion of his country from the neo-imperialism of China whose government also is quite prepared to make use of this modern form of slavery.

            On the more general and massive problem of modern slavery in Russia, see, and

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