Around 300 N. Korean workers arrived in Russia via train: expert

SEOUL, Around 300 people presumed to be North Korean workers arrived in Russia via train earlier this month, a South Korean expert said Wednesday, amid deepening cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow. Citing a source in Russia, Cho Han-bum, a senior research fellow at the state-funded Korea Institute for National Unification, said hundreds of North Korean workers were seen disembarking a train at a station near Vladivostok on Feb. 5. "They were seen carrying packages, but in light of their outfits, they were identified as workers at a glance, not as tourists," Cho said, dismissing the possibility of them being students studying abroad or officials on diplomatic missions. He said they seem to be among the first group of North Korean workers that Pyongyang is likely to continue to send to Russia. If confirmed, the move constitutes a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning the overseas dispatch of the North's workers. All member states of the U.N. were required to repatriate any North Koreans earning income in their jurisdiction by the end of 2019 under UNSC Resolution 2397, adopted in 2017. The National Intelligence Service, South Korea's spy agency, declined to confirm the arrival of hundreds of the North's workers in Russia. "We are monitoring situations related to North Korea's dispatch of its workers to Russia," it said. North Korea and Russia have expanded the scope of their cooperation following the summit between the North's leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in September last year. Source: Yonhap News Agency