N Korea demands return of workers
NORTH Korea yesterday demanded the repatriation of a dozen restaurant workers who jointly fled to South Korea, a day after blasting Seoul over a separate high-profile defection.
The statement yesterday was Pyongyang’s first reaction to Seoul’s announcement last week that the 12 restaurant employees and their manager had been released from government custody.
The group had been “released into society”, the South’s unification ministry said, after the intelligence service had completed investigations into their case.
North Korea claims the group was kidnapped.
A spokesperson for its emergency committee set up for “rescuing” abductees described the ministry’s announcement as a “mean plot” aimed at “covering up the truth behind the group abduction”.
“Keeping them hidden from the public ... citing ‘safety reasons’ shows that the puppet government’s announcement is a complete fabrication,” he said.
“We will continue fighting until we can rescue and bring back our female citizens,” the spokesperson added in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.
The waitresses had been working at a North Korea-themed restaurant in China. They arrived in the South in April.
While Seoul said they fled voluntarily, Pyongyang claimed they were kidnapped. –