(ATTN: ADDS number of North Korean workers in Russia in para 8)
SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has recently concluded an agreement with Russia to expand the shipment of its workers to the Eurasian country despite the escalating U.N. sanctions on the North's nuclear and missile provocations, a U.S. broadcaster reported Tuesday.
"The two countries intensively discussed an issue involving the North's labor exports during a meeting of their joint working group in Pyongyang Friday," Radio Free Asia said, citing a Facebook account of the Russian Embassy in the North Korean capital. The (North) Korean Central News Agency also made the same report Friday.
Ri Kwang-gun, vice minister of the North's External Economic Relations, and Dmitri Demidenko, deputy head of the Russian Interior Ministry's General Bureau of Emigration Affairs, signed a protocol to that effect at the meeting, the broadcaster said.
One of the major agenda items was a language proficiency test for North Korean workers who are to be sent to Russia, according to the broadcaster.
To that end, the two sides agreed to expand cooperation between the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, it added.
Russia has required migrant workers to take language and history tests for their entry since 2015.
Russia's move to expand the imports of North Korean workers, a main source of foreign currency for the North's nuclear development, is squarely contradictory to the international community's efforts to block such exports.
At present, some 30,000 North Korean workers are estimated to be in Russia, with most of them in the logging, mining and construction sectors.
The two nations signed a protocol on North Koreans' temporary work in Russia in 2007.