A Korean soul-worker who says he’s being targeted by North Korea’s government is among the more than 500 people detained at a labor camp in a remote location in China, the government said Friday.
The group is being held in the village of Yumek in northeastern Sichuan province, which is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Seoul.
The labor camp is believed to be the largest in China.
The workers have been in China for about a month to participate in the government’s national education and rehabilitation campaign.
The South Korean government said the camp is part of a nationwide effort to “ensure the welfare and safety of the workers.”
South Korean officials said the workers are being held at a complex that houses thousands of Chinese nationals.
Officials also said that North Korea was providing the workers with food, medical care and transportation.
The camp, in the mountainous mountainous region of Shandong, has been home to more than 1,300 Koreans for more than 50 years.
A North Korean government official said that the laborers are being forced to work on government projects in the rural area of Shorong.
He said the laborers were being sent to a government-run factory in Shorng for construction work.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the workers had been receiving free health care and other basic services.
North Korea has repeatedly accused the South of sending workers to the camp to work and that it uses them as human shields.
In a separate incident, North Korea said Thursday that its top officials had been abducted in a car-ramming attack near the country’s eastern border with China.
It said its top leaders were taken to a nearby factory, and that the two were killed.
The attack came as South Korea grappled with an unprecedented surge in migrant workers, including hundreds of North Korean workers, who are often sent to China for the countrys vast agricultural industry.
The laborers are usually paid more than $1,000 a month for work that can last as long as seven months, Yonhap reported.
In recent years, a series of defections has increased the number of North Koreans working in China’s vast labor camps.
In 2016, a South Korean official said he witnessed a North Korean working in the labor camp.
He was among a group of North Korea-bound South Koreans who were sent to the area, Yonabes report said.
North Korean officials denied that Pyongyang had sent any workers to China to work in agriculture.
The United Nations has called on North Korea to halt its abductions and the deaths of its workers, saying the camps are cruel and inhumane.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has urged North Korea not to use the labor camps as a recruitment tool for the communist state.
The council also said North Korea should allow independent investigators to investigate its abductees.