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North Korean Restaurant Workers Defect to South Via China

Image: North Korean Restaurant Workers Defect to South Via China

As with any subject, from missiles to mushrooms, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides "field guidance" on proper food preparation. (REUTERS/KCNA)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 May 2016 10:40 AM

A group of North Korean restaurant workers with jobs in China defected to South Korea and asked for asylum, according to the Voice of America, making it the second time recently that workers fled their jobs to escape the clutches of their reclusive country.

In April, 13 workers at a Chinese-based restaurant owned by North Korea escaped to South Korea, saying they were pressured to send currency back to their homeland from China. noted VoA.

South Korean Foreign Minister Cho June-hyuck declined to say how many restaurant workers escaped this time or give other details.

"It is true that workers of oversea North Korean restaurant have escaped," Cho said in a briefing, per VoA. "But we cannot give you details on status of these workers. It is our government's position that we cannot give you details because of safety of North Korean defectors, diplomatic matter, and relation with neighboring countries."

South Korean officials announced in April that 12 North Korean women and one man defected because they felt pressure from North Korea to send currency back to their homeland, reported CNN. They worked at a restaurant in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, in southern China.

"The workers said that they learned about the reality in South Korea through South Korean TV, soap operas, movies and (the) internet," said South Korean unification ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee then, per CNN.

North Korea charged, noted CNN, that the group had been abducted and that the workers were "tricked" into leaving.

"We would never leave our parents, country, and leader Kim Jong Un," Han Yun Hui, a waitress at the restaurant, which is now closed, said in Pyongyang, reported CNN.

Cho said the April defections were an unusual occurrence, noted VoA.

"The difference between this defection and the previous defection is that the previous defection was very unusual as many defectors escaped in a group and (our government) revealed it considering the situation," Cho said.

"With regards to the defection this time, I would like to tell you that our government is dealing with (the defection) according to our custom of handling North Korean defectors."

Most of the roughly 130 restaurants North Korea runs overseas are located in China and the country has about 50,000 to 60,000 residents working abroad, said VoA citing National Intelligence Service figures.

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A group of North Korean restaurant workers with jobs in China defected to South Korea and asked for asylum, making it the second time recently that workers fled their jobs to escape the clutches of their reclusive country.
north korean, restaurant, workers, defect
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2016-40-25
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 10:40 AM
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