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Remains of N. Korean workers who died in Russia returned to families

The remains of North Korean laborers who died while working in the Russian cities of Krasnoyarsk and Tynda were recently turned over to their bereaved relatives in North Korea, Daily NK has learned. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Daily NK source in North Korea said Tuesday that the “remains of workers who died in Russia during the four-year COVID-19 pandemic but could not be returned to their families have been sent back over the last year, with the repatriations coming to an end in late April.” He added, “The families find solace amid great sadness in safely receiving the remains after a long wait.”

Efforts to repatriate the remains of the workers from Russia had been quietly ongoing since early last year, he added. 

Most of the deceased workers died in Russia from construction or logging accidents or disease. The remains could not return home due to North Korea’s closure of the border to block COVID-19, so they were stored at the workers’ businesses or workplaces.

Then, last year, North Korea began regular repatriations of remains every couple of months using flights and trains.

“The highest number of deaths occurred in the logging camps of Tynda, Amur Oblast, so repatriations from there continued until recently,” the source said.

Logging considered most dangerous type of work 

In response, some workers now preparing to be sent to Russia and their relatives believe logging is several times more dangerous than construction work, and an increasing number of workers wish to avoid being sent to logging camps.

In response to this sentiment, North Korean authorities are intensifying crackdowns on the public to prevent unnecessary feelings of insecurity or fear caused by the spread of rumors concerning the repatriation of remains.

Meanwhile, the authorities are trying to put soon-to-be dispatched workers at ease by telling them they will take prompt measures to ensure their safety in cooperation with their Russian counterparts.

“In fact, after the latest set of remains were repatriated, the government placed emphasis through workplaces in Russia about the improvement of work and safety conditions at Russian logging camps and the good management and supervision of workers’ health,” the source said. “[Nonetheless], the latest repatriations of remains are becoming an opportunity to spotlight once again that logging is more dangerous than construction work overseas.” 

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 07, 2024 at 12:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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