MOSCOW – This is not an article about a missionary agency, a missionary project, or a faith-based organization. It is about people of whom we are mostly unaware. People who need the Lord. People who need our prayers. The purpose of this article is to raise our collective awareness and encourage us to pray.Something significant is happening right now that is part of the United Nations’ sanctions imposed upon North Korea on 22 December 2017. An estimated 130,000 North Korean workers who have been working in Russia and China are making their way home.
Among other things, the sanctions ban North Korea from trading in arms and military equipment, restrict scientific and technical cooperation between North Korea and other countries, and froze the assets of individuals involved in North Korea’s nuclear program.
The imposition of sanctions is a process. The deadline for the return of North Koreans working in other countries is the end of December 2019.
We may be tempted to think that, for these workers, who were unable to earn much more than a subsistence-level income at home, leaving North Korea would be a good thing. Yet, reputable sources describe the working conditions in Russia and China akin to slave labor.
The labor, often in unskilled aspects of construction, is burdensome, and the hours are long. In many cases, work begins early in the morning. The workers take lunch and dinner breaks at the appointed times then continue working until 11 o’clock at night.
The reason for this sanction is that North Korea is making millions of dollars off of the backs of their own workers, either through arrangements with Russia and China or “agreements” with employers.
Adding insult to injury, the workers are required, as Radio Free Asia describes,
“to hand over an additional U.S. $100 of their salaries each month as the Kim Jong Un regime struggles to secure foreign currency amid crushing international sanctions.”
Before demanding the additional $100, workers were required to turn over $760 every month.
Let’s do the math for the past two years.
$760 x 24 (months) x 130,000 (workers) = $2,371,300,000
That helps us to understand why the UN sanctions included the return of these workers. The Kim regime will lose nearly $2.4 billion in revenue with which they are funding their nuclear development program.
Train tickets from Moscow to Pyongyang are already sold out through the end of December as the workers return home to face conditions worse than in Russia and China. They will return home, but there are very few jobs at home.
What is worse is that these young men and women were raised in a country where they had likely never heard of Jesus. A place where they were taught to worship the emperor as a god. Neither Russia nor China likely held little hope for the North Korean workers as they moved from one secular, anti-Christian nation to two others similar in nature.
This is the only world these workers have ever known. A world where they are blinded by the darkness. A world where they are longing for the Light.
Consider making these 130,000 North Korean workers a permanent part of your prayer list. The Lord stands ready to welcome them in His kingdom if someone were able to shine the Light into their darkness.
- Pray for God to deliver this nation long-enslaved by a brutal regime.
- Pray for the Light to shine in the darkness.
- Pray for Truth to reign and liberate these workers and the entire nation from the regime’s indoctrination and lies.
FINAL NOTE: The 2019 World Watch List identifies North Korea as the leading nation for the persecution of Christians. Pray for those believers who must trust and worship in the bleakest of circumstances.
To read more news on Human Rights on Missions Box, go here.
- Radio Free Asia, Train tickets to Pyongyang Sold Out in Russia as North Korean Workers Rush Home Before Sanctions Deadline, North Korean Workers in China Forced to Work Overtime Before Sanctions Deadline, and North Korea Orders Cash-Strapped Migrant Workers in Russia to Increase Tithes to Kim Regime
- Council on Foreign Relations, What to Know About Sanctions on North Korea
- Prayercast, North Korea