N. Korean women working in Chinese hotel for hard currency
BEIJING (Yonhap) -- North Korea, eager to accumulate much-needed hard foreign currency, has dispatched an army of female workers to a landmark hotel in China's richest village, sources said Friday.
According to officials in Huaxi, Jiangsu Province's model city which amassed massive wealth thanks to its capitalistic economic drive, about 20 to 30 North Korean women began working as waitresses in the five-star Longxi International Hotel in early 2012.
The skyscraper hotel drew much attention in and outside of China when it opened late last year for its massive investment of nearly $500 million.
The North Korean staff mostly in their early- or mid-20s are working at the hotel's North Korean restaurant as well as Chinese and Japanese restaurants for as much as 5,000 Chinese yuan ($785) in monthly salary each.
North Korean officials are keeping them under surveillance while the hotel accommodates them in a separate section, the sources said.
Experts said the female workers in the Chinese hotel are just part of more than 1,000 North Korean women working mostly in Korean restaurants across China, North Korea's closest ally and a key source of foreign currency income.
The latest staff dispatch indicates North Korea is diversifying its export of workforce into foreign restaurants from its previous pool of Korean diners, experts said.