SEOUL, July 13 (UPI) — North Korea‘s state security apparatus is sending laborers to China illegally to work in coal mines, according to a source in the country.
The anonymous source who spoke to Radio Free Asia from Yanggang Province said the province’s branch of the state security department began to send illegal workers to coal mines in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin since May.
“They have illegally trafficked people several times,” the source said.
The miners who are sent to China were previously working in a mine in Yanggang Province but were relocated to a site in Changbai Chaoxian Autonomous County across the border.
As recently as July 3, state security agents sent about 30 North Korean workers to China, the source said.
Another unidentified source said the North Korean workers smuggled across the Yalu River are miners from Unhung County in Yanggang Province.
A third source, a border guard stationed in the province, said North Korean workers who are apprehended by Chinese security and repatriated to the North are not penalized.
North Koreans who cross the border are typically punished for breaking state law.
On Wednesday a North Korean foreign ministry official condemned the measure, slamming the Obama administration for policies that “were not even enacted by the second-generation Bush administration.”
Pyongyang blamed Washington for pushing forward with a vicious cycle of escalating tensions, according to Yonhap.