Wednesday, May 14, 2008

North Koreans in Mongolia - An expanding workforce?

Mongolia Web News reports that the Mongolian Parliament is in a discussion over issuing work visas / permits to North Korean workers. I don't know much about the recent relationship between Mongolia and North Korea, given our new friends: the Dubya army and his allies. What would be Uncle Sam's view on this new development? More importantly, how would an influx of North Korean workers impact on Mongolia's social and economic situation?

Is it a simply diplomatic expression to call it a "work visa" instead of say a refugee status or an asylum? Obviously an exaggeration on my part, but surely a significant percentage of the North Koreans with a visa to Mongolia would see this as a ticket out of the starvation regime. Or would Uncle Kim Jong-Il hold their first-borns as insurance policy against them succumbing to the corruptions of westernized society? How will the government keep the workers in check and ensure they do not violate their visa conditions by illegally crossing the border in to China in hopes of making it to South Korea? Surely they are not considering the same humiliating tactics employed by many employers in Singapore, where they would confiscate the foreign workers' passports throughout the duration of their employment in Singapore.

What was also notable in the Mongolia Web News report is the following paragraph:
The law, which expands a Mongolian-North Korean intergovernmental agreement on exchanges of work forces, would allow North Korean workers to enter Mongolia to work in the country’s road and construction industries. Read more heah
I don't think I am overreacting when I say: EXCHANGE of work forces?? As in, two-way? Are they out of their freaking minds? Who in their right mind would want to work in North Korea? What sort of work would there be for a foreigner in North Korea? Engineer at a nuclear plant, that's for sure. A public relations expert is what North Korea needs right now. Unfortunately, Mongolians are still a few steps behind everyone else in that field.. except North Korea.

Of course, that is not to say that if Kim Jong-Il's office phones me and offers me a job for a year to work as a public relations expert, I would consider it. For lots of money.