The United Nations' human rights investigator for North Korea said he will look into allegations that 20-thousand North Koreans are working in slave-like conditions in countries like China, Russia and the Middle East.
Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea, told Reuters the workers are (quote) "bonded laborers or slave laborers" who receive poor compensation for working long hours.
NK Watch, a Seoul-based human rights group, says roughly a hundred thousand workers are sent overseas to 40 countries and make some 3-billion U.S. dollars in foreign currency every year for the Kim Jong-un regime.
The human rights group also called for an investigation into host countries' involvement in the program.
This isn't the first time the practice has surfaced.
Activists say North Korea has been using its manpower to make money for the Kim regime since the 1980s, with some of the money is being spent on luxury goods.
But the practice has been accelerating under the current leadership, as the number of North Korean workers abroad is said to have increased by 35-thousand since 2012, based on figures from the New York Times and NK Watch.
Activists say the practice may have increased because of tighter international sanctions on the regime that have prompted it to seek new sources of revenue.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.