North Korean labor in Russia

A North Korean worker walks through the building site.

A North Korean worker walks through the building site.

In a report published Tuesday, there are an estimated 50,000 North Korean workers in Russia, living clandestinely on construction sites as "slave-like labor" to send meager funds home to their families. 

The US State Department has focused on this ex-patriate community in their most recent sanctions in an effort to reduce economic support for Kim Jong Un and the totalitarian state's nuclear program. 

However, with Russian diplomats weighing in on the effectiveness of sanctions and toeing the line between international condemnation and acting as the "crucial lifeline" to North Korea, the workers in Russia will continue building for now. 

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North and South unite for the Olympics

In anticipation of the Winter Olympic Games opening on Feb. 9, North Korea has sent delegations to the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom for discussions on how to unite the peninsula for the games. 

The South Korean Unification Ministry has led talks primarily around coordination of the musicians and entertainment groups. However, officials in Seoul, Washington, and Pyongyang have expressed hopes for peace talks. 


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Music is Contagious

Children of North Korean women learning new songs at our annual retreat.

Children of North Korean women learning new songs at our annual retreat.

What is the value of a song to a child? How can one song affect her life?

We taught a child of a North Korean refugee a simple song at a retreat this summer. It’s a Christian song about how God can help us in times of trouble. A young child who learned this song, Esther, seemed to take to the music and lyrics at the retreat.

Last year we were able to host a retreat with many of the refugees in our network. The purpose of this retreat is to provide Christian counseling and support to address the trauma that North Korean refugees have endured. During this retreat is a smaller retreat, which is for the children of these refugees. This is where Esther was able to learn this song.

When we made a follow-up visit to Esther’s family this fall, we were surprised that, not only did Esther retain the music, she continued singing it after the retreat. She loved it so much that she taught the song to the children in her neighborhood.

We think this is symbolic of the love and care that we show to the refugees when we see them. The support and the services that we provide for these people never just ends with them.

We have seen time and time again that refugees share the money they receive from Crossing Borders with others in their community. They bring other refugees into their communities. They help each other in times of need.

It is like a song that Esther could not help but share with the community around her.