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US Imposes Sanctions Over N. Korean Workers Abroad

The U.S. Treasury Department building at dusk, June 6, 2019, in Washington.

The United States has imposed sanctions on two North Korean entities for facilitating the export of labor in violation of U.N. sanctions.

A U.S. Treasury statement issued Tuesday identified the entities as Korea Namgang Trading Corp (NTC) and Beijing Sukbakso.

"The Government of North Korea continues to use the illicit exportation of North Korean labor to generate income overseas in contravention of United Nations (U.N.) sanctions. Today’s action targets a North Korean trading corporation and a China-based North Korean lodging facility that facilitate North Korea’s practice of sending laborers abroad," the statement said.

Under a U.N. resolution adopted in 2017, nations had until December 22, 2019, to send back all workers from North Korea.

Human rights groups have often accused North Korea of sending its citizens to foreign countries for forced labor to sustain its economy, with most of the workers' salary going straight to the government. The country is known to violate international labor practices when sending workers abroad, putting them to work under harsh conditions.

"The exportation of North Korean workers raises illicit revenue for the government of North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions," said Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

As a result of the sanctions announced Tuesday, "all property of NTC and Beijing Sukbakso that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported" to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control."