South Korea says more North Korean restaurant workers leave third country
SEOUL (Reuters) – Several other North Korean workers fled their jobs at an overseas restaurant run by the isolated north, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Tuesday after a media report revealed said three people had escaped from China and were seeking asylum.
New Focus, a Seoul-based website run by North Korean defectors with sources in the north, said three workers at an unidentified restaurant in Shanghai had fled to a third country, citing an unidentified source.
South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported earlier Tuesday that the workers were in Thailand. He also cited an unidentified source.
The latest reports follow the defection of 13 North Korean workers from a restaurant run by the Secret North in China in April, a case described by South Korea as unprecedented.
North Korea accused South Korea of a “hideous kidnapping” and published interviews in state media with the families of some of the workers who arrived in the South in the April incident.
In the latter case, South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed that some North Koreans working in an overseas restaurant had recently “separated.”
An official said the ministry could not confirm whether they entered South Korea, how many workers had defected and where they are now.
The two Koreas have remained in a technical state of war since their conflict of 1950-53 ended in a truce and not in a peace treaty. In recent years, they have been locked in a prolonged period of rhetoric and heightened tension.
North Korea took a different strategy on deserters under Chief Kim Jong Un, showing those who later defected north on state television and bringing the families of others to Panmunjom, on the border between the two. States.
Seven of the other restaurateurs who did not join the 13 for defecting in April returned to Pyongyang and were later shown to a CNN reporter on a trip to North Korea.
The families of some of the defectors were also interviewed by CNN in May.
Reporting by James Pearson and Ju-min Park; Editing by Paul Tait