S. Korea rejects North’s accusation it abducted restaurant workers from China

North Korean workers dancing at a government-run restaurant abroad

North Korean workers dancing at a government-run restaurant abroad

An embarrassed North Korea has accused its arch-enemy, South Korea, of abducting 13 defectors from Ningbo, China, last week. South Korea, meanwhile, insists the group came of their own free will.

North Korea also obliquely criticized “a country” — namely, China — for assisting in the alleged (and imaginary) abduction.

The 12 female employees and a male manager left Ningbo in Zhejiang Province on April 5, and arrived in Seoul to seek asylum on April 7. A Chinese foreign ministry official confirmed that the group had legal travel documents, suggesting China did not prevent their departure.

North Korea has demanded the 13 be returned immediately, or South Korea would face “unimaginable serious consequences.”

The article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carries a statement of an unnamed spokesperson from North Korea’s Central Committee of the Red Cross Society.

“We sternly denounce the group abduction of the citizens of the DPRK as a hideous crime against its dignity and social system and the life and security of its citizens,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

“The recent case of ‘group defection’ cooked up by the puppet group is a crucial provocation against the DPRK which can never be tolerated as it is an unbearable insult to the people of the DPRK”.

—->snip< ----- “The south Korean authorities should bear in mind that unless they apologize for the hideous abduction and send those abductees back, they will face unimaginable serious consequences and severe punishment,” the article read.

Source: NK News

Defectors from the North say anyone returning would certainly be imprisoned or perhaps executed. Their families may also suffer extreme consequences even if the defectors remain abroad.

South Korea officials insist the Ningbo group came to Seoul by choice, quoting them as saying they had grown disillusioned with the North after watching South Korea soap operas on Chinese TV. And Chinese officials said there was no reason to prevent holders of North Korea passports from visiting another country.

The North’s article obliquely criticizes China — its only real ally in the world — for its participation in the affair.

“We are fully aware of how the puppet’s intelligence office appeased our citizens and abducted them to a Southeast Asian country, under the connivance of a country,” its statement read.

Source: NK News

“Puppet” refers to South Korea, which the North says is a puppet state of the USA. “A Southeast Asian country” and “a country” mean China.

The North Korean government maintains 130 restaurants around the world as a way to funnel hard currency into the country. Applicants are closely screened to ensure their loyalty to the North Korean regime, and are closely monitored while abroad. So, the speed with which the Ningbo group left their workplace and arrived in Seoul suggests to expert observers that they must have had assistance, perhaps from the South Korean intelligence service.

No wonder North Korea is a bit miffed.

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