North Korean doctors are being dispatched to the Yanbian Autonomous Korean Prefecture of China in order to bring in much-needed foreign currency, a source has reported.
Lee Wong Jong, the manager of an oriental medicine clinic in Yanji, the capital of the autonomous region, contacted Daily NK on the 1st.
“Most North Koreans in Yanji work in North Korean-run restaurants and IT companies, but lately it’s not been hard to find North Korean doctors, too. These doctors are working legally at Chinese hospitals,” he said.
He continued, “They are obtaining official visas from the North Korean government and moving to China to work. They are not in the country as the result of an agreement between China and North Korea, however. North Korea is providing individual doctors with visas so that they can go and earn foreign currency.”
“I know a North Korean dentist working at a hospital. At the same time, he works to help people like himself who have been granted Chinese visas. He essentially plays the role of an employment agency and helps them find work in other hospitals. Many IT workers have come to China too, and he connects those people with companies and factories, too.”
Lee now fears for his friend, however; “A few months ago I started to see less and less of him, and now he has disappeared without a trace.” He explained, “If the North Korean authorities receive a report that one of their citizens has met with a South Korean they order them to return home, no exceptions.”
On the North’s move to provide visas to its doctors, Lee revealed, “North Korean doctors are not well-regarded in China. No one wants to get treated by a doctor from a backward country, so the authorities can’t form an official agreement with China to send them. Granting visas to individual doctors instead is an unofficial way to bring in foreign currency.”
Doctors are not the only profession to receive permission to work and live in China, Lee explained. “In Yanji there are many North Koreans. You can see young Chinese-Koreans in their early 20s driving around in foreign cars. They manage IT companies that employ North Korean labor, and make good money that way.”
He added, “The number of North Korean workers employed in Chinese firms has skyrocketed over the last few years. They now show no outward signs of awkwardness adapting to life in China.”