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N Korea at crossroads

Sanctions on North Korean migrant workers undermined by 'interns'

Pyongyang exploits alternative visa programs while China looks the other way

A performer sings at a North Korean-themed restaurant in Shenyang, China. North Korean laborers can skirt UN sanctions by applying for entertainment visas. (Photo by Tsukasa Hadano)

DALIAN, China -- Nations have until the end of December to expel migrant workers from North Korea, as dictated by United Nations sanctions, but China has essentially carved out a loophole by granting reams of visas normally reserved for interns or entertainers.

In Dandong, a city on China's side of the Yalu River, one trading house has decided to launch a staffing business that employs North Korean migrants. So far, an apparel maker and a seafood company have requested about 1,000 workers in total, the trader's chief said in late October.

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