When North Korean defectors succeed in landing work in China and begin earning wages, they remit money to relatives who stayed behind in the reclusive communist nation.
However, when Pyongyang tested a nuclear device last October 9, major Chinese banks barred remittances to North Korea. But enterprising North Koreans and Chinese soon breached this barrier. An underground money brokering system was devised to allow North Koreans to send their hard-earned money home.
According to sources, the underground remittance system involves a broker in North Korea escorting a person designated to receive the money to a prearranged spot on the bank of the Tumen River. On the Chinese side, another broker takes a person designated to send the money to a certain spot.
The broker in North Korea hands money to the appointed person, who then calls the Chinese side via mobile phone to confirm receipt. The appointed person then hands over an equal sum, plus a commission, to the broker on the Chinese side. And the deal is done.
Later, the broker in China repays the broker in North Korea and they split the commission fee, which is usually 20 to 30 percent.