Restau­rant work­ers de­fect

North Kore­ans in China head for the South

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

An un­spec­i­fied num­ber of North Kore­ans work­ing at a Py­ongyang-run restau­rant over­seas have es­caped their work­place and will travel to South Korea, South Korean of­fi­cials said.

The an­nounce­ment by Seoul’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry came af­ter South Korean me­dia re­ported that two or three fe­male em­ploy­ees at a North Korean-run restau­rant in China fled and went to an uniden­ti­fied South­east Asian coun­try ear­lier this month.

It’s the sec­ond known group es­cape by North Korean restau­rant work­ers dis­patched abroad in re­cent weeks. In April, a group of 13 North Kore­ans who had worked at a North Korean-run restau­rant in the east­ern Chi­nese city of Ningbo de­fected to South Korea.

The lat­est es­capes will likely en­rage Py­ongyang, which typ­i­cally ac­cuses Seoul of try­ing to abduct or en­tice North Korean cit­i­zens to de­fect. South Korea has de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion. South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency re­ported that the lat­est de­fec­tors had worked at a restau­rant in the cen­tral Chi­nese city of Xian and that they may have trav­elled to Thai­land.

South Korea’s spy ser­vice said ear­lier this year that North Korea was run­ning about 130 restau­rants over­seas, mostly in China. Over­all, North Korea has about 50,000 to 60,000 work­ers abroad.

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