A lecture held for workers at a clothing factory in Jilin Province recently highlighted the poor economic situation in North Korea and encouraged them to be “happy” with their lives in China, Daily NK has learned.

“A North Korean trading company representative stated during the lecture that [North Korea’s] economic situation is at its worst,” a source in China told Daily NK yesterday.

According to the source, the representative went on to say that the workers should be “happy” to be in China given that people in North Korea are “unable to eat properly.”

While the representative likely aimed to promote the fact that life for the workers is better in China than in North Korea, those attending the lecture reportedly felt concern about their families and even anger.

The source told Daily NK that the workers were “angry that [North Korean officials] may try to take all the money they’ve saved up with the excuse that the country’s economy is doing poorly.”

North Korean workers in China have faced difficulties earning their wages in recent months because orders to clothing factories have fallen significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention that this is generally an “off-season” for clothing factories.

Some workers have resorted to doing various handiwork in their dormitories and residences to earn money, another Daily NK source said.

“I understand that two hard-working people can jointly earn around RMB 100 [around USD 14.30] a day,” the source reported, adding that restaurant workers along with some management-level traders have also turned to home-based work to earn a living.

“I have no money to buy any food right now, and there’s many like me,” a Liaoning Province-based North Korean involved in trading activities told Daily NK. “People are working from home with local Korean-Chinese to string beads and make other decorative items for events in China.”

The trader also told Daily NK that he faces demands from North Korea for contributions to the country’s “loyalty fund” despite barely making a living.

“I want to be involved in trade [between China and North Korea] but nobody can conduct trade activities unless you have been designated by the government to do so,” he added.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.