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Despite sanctions, N. Korea continues imports of parts for electronics

North Korea continues to import parts for electronics through China, paying in dollars or fraudulent bank accounts to circumvent international sanctions, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Korea told Daily NK last Wednesday that the North “imports needed electronics and semiconductors, parts and various necessary raw materials for electronics using a variety of methods, including illegal channels and small-scale trade across the border in circumvention of international sanctions. In the case of semiconductors for smartphones, the North imports them through Chinese companies in Shenyang, Dalian, Tianjin and Shandong Province.”

When Daily NK has checked the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers on North Korean smartphones, the devices sometimes come up as Chinese products. The devices are often equipped with Taiwanese-made application processors as well. 

Although UN Security Council Resolution 2397 bans North Korea from importing electronic devices or goods, the North continues to develop devices by importing electronic goods and parts, rendering sanctions meaningless.

“China, Russia and Southeast Asia — in that order — are the biggest import sources for electronic goods or parts,” the source said. “Payments are in dollars.”

Rather than official bank transfers, the parties to the transactions prefer cash, which leaves no paper trail. Those involved in the transactions sometimes make illegal transfers using fraudulent accounts, he added. 

Electronics factory workers are treated poorly

The source further told Daily NK that North Korea manufactures, produces and sells mobile phones, video players, televisions and other devices using imported parts and raw materials.

However, workers in the factories producing those electronics receive poor treatment.

“Workers in electronics factories usually receive low wages,” the source said. “Work hours are long, rest times are really short, and there are ‘production struggles’ for tasks every month.”

That being said, electronics factories appear to operate relatively smoothly despite the long hours put in by the laborers. 

“When assigning workers to electronics factories, people with special technical skills are considered first, while other important considerations are politics, ethics and trustworthiness,” the source said. “The workers receive no particular benefits just because they toil away in an electronics factory. Of course, the ‘production struggles’ sometimes lead to gifts or bonuses.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

May 13, 2024 at 12:00PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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