North Koreans who were working in China are returning en masse to their homeland due stricter rules for obtaining and extending visas after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions.
"In the first half of 2017, about 20,000 North Koreans worked in the Chinese city of Dandong along the border with the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). However, their number has significantly decreased now that China has strengthened sanctions,” Yonhap reports.
On September 12th, Chinese authorities were ordered not to extend Chinese visas already issued to North Koreans and to make the process of issuing new ones stricter. Also, on September 28th, an order was issued to shut down firms operating in China that are owned by the DPRK and its citizens within 120 days. These sanctions were imposed by Beijing because of Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests.
More than 100,000 DPRK citizens are currently working in different countries and transfer most of their earnings to the North Korean treasury. Experts believe that this allows Pyongyang to receive up to $500 million a year, which can be used for nuclear program development.