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N. Korea demands return of defectors from S. Korea

North Korea on Saturday called for the release of North Korean defectors that it claims have been lured and kidnapped by South Korea, offering a possible reason for its recent suspension of dialogue with Seoul.

In a report by the country's official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified spokesman for North Korea's Red Cross Society insisted that it has been proven that the North Koreans were "forcibly abducted," citing a recent report by a South Korean broadcaster that suggested the former employees of a North Korean restaurant in China may have in fact been lured into defecting from their communist homeland.

"The south Korean cable broadcaster JTBC recently put it that the 'case of group defection of the North's employees' in April 2016 was proven to be a conspiratorial farce cooked up by the Park Geun Hye group of traitors, and that those women citizens of the DPRK were proven to have been forcibly abducted by the puppet Intelligence Service by interviews of a criminal involved in the case and victims," the KCNA report said. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


Pyongyang has long insisted that the group of 12 female workers and their male manager were abducted and brought to South Korea.

Last week, Seoul's unification ministry again dismissed the North's claim, saying the North Koreans defected on their free will.

The North's renewed claim apparently shed some light on its decision last week to indefinitely postpone high-level dialogue with South Korea, earlier set to be held Wednesday.

It cited an ongoing joint military exercise by South Korean and US troops here as a reason for its abrupt suspension of inter-Korean dialogue that came less than one month after its leader Kim Jong-un agreed to improve inter-Korean ties and pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, held April 27.

"At the historic April North-South summit meeting and talks we stressed the need not to hoard up the agreements reached between the North and the South as in the past, and the South side expressed deep sympathy with it. However, the attitude taken by the South Korean authorities even before the ink on the Panmunjom declaration got dry has greatly disappointed us, not just arousing regret," the KCNA quoted the Red Cross spokesman as saying.

The North said the claimed abduction of the workers may have been designed and carried out by Seoul's former conservative Park Geun-hye administration, urging Seoul's incumbent government to admit and correct its predecessor's crime.

"The South Korean authorities should admit the unheard-of atrocity of the Park regime, severely punish those involved in the case, send our women citizens to their families without delay and thus show the will to improve the North-South ties," the report said.

"We will prudently watch their future attitude," it added. (Yonhap)

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