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Iran Press TV

North Korea accuses South of abducting 13 of its citizens

Iran Press TV

Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:52AM

North Korea says Seoul has "lured" and "kidnapped" 13 of its citizens who worked in a state-run restaurant in China and demanded their repatriation.

A spokesman for North Korea's Red Cross Society said on Tuesday that intelligence agents from the neighboring South abducted the North Korean nationals by using "all sorts of appeasement, deception and gimmicks."

"Unless they apologize for the hideous abduction and send those abductees back, they will face unimaginable serious consequences and severe punishment," the the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted the spokesman as saying.

South Korea claimed last week that 13 North Koreans who worked for an overseas restaurant run by the North had defected to the South. Officials initially did not give information about the location the 13 had worked and how they went to Seoul.

Reports said that the 13 North Korean nationals had worked in a restaurant in China's southeastern port city of Ningbo and that they decided to defect after watching South Korean televisions and distrusting North Korea's propaganda.

They had reportedly left China on April 6 and arrived in Seoul a day later. China said the North Koreans left its border with valid passports.

Pyongyang reportedly runs some 130 restaurants abroad. About 100 of them are in China and the rest are in Russia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The country makes USD 10 million a year from the restaurants. Many of those who go to the restaurants are South Korean tourists.

Some 29,000 people have fled from the North since the Koreas were divided at a war in the 1950s.

On Monday, a South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman said that a high-ranking North Korean intelligence officer defected to the South last May.

The defections come at a time of heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang condemns Seoul and Washington for pushing UN sanctions against the North's nuclear and missile programs and has also reacted severely to the joint annual military drills staged by the US and the South.

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