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North Korea Demands Defectors Be Returned; Negotiators Meet 2nd Time on Winter Olympics

North Korea Demands Defectors Be Returned; Negotiators Meet 2nd Time on Winter Olympics

Three North Korean soldiers look at as two South Korean soldiers standing guard at the spot where a defector crossed the border on Nov. 13. (Lee Jin-man/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 January 2018 06:33 AM

North Korea demanded that defectors from a 2016 incident be returned from South Korea as a precondition for the revival of cross-border reunions, as negotiators tried to hammer out a deal for the North's participation in February's PyeongChang Olympics.

North Korea officials have charged that 12 workers who defected to South Korea in 2016 were kidnapped, but South Korea said that they left the North of their own free will, the Korea Herald reported.

Officials from North and South Korea met Monday for the second time in less than seven days to work out details on how the North can take part in the South Korean Winter Olympics, including sponsoring joint teams, CNN reported.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to North Korea's proposal to hold high-level talks on Wednesday, CNN added.

"This is why all those crotchety hawks evinced such skepticism at North Korea's talks," Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, tweeted about North Korea's defector demands. "We all saw this coming."

Baik Tae-hyun, a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, said he did not see North Korea's demand as a stumbling block in talks, per CNN.

"The North was just addressing their position on the issue to us," Baik said, according to CNN. "There was no conflict or anything on that."

The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that the 12 women reportedly escaped their minders at the Ryugyong restaurant in the Chinese province Zhejiang in April 2016 and boarded a flight to South Korea.

North Korea has demanded their return along with another woman named Kim Ryon-hui, who defected to South Korea by another route but has since asked to go back to the North, the publication stated.

The South Korean publication The Hankyoreh reported that North Korea, which is under United Nations and U.S. sanctions targeting its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, succeeded in getting South Korea to agree to fund the North's Olympic delegation, which could include as many as 500 athletes, performers, officials and reporters, USA Today reported.

"This is typical. (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's) family playbook goes back several decades," Gordon Chang, an author and Korea analyst, told USA Today. "First they refuse to talk to South Korea. Then they make a bold overture. Next comes demands and then they throw a tantrum."

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North Korea demanded that defectors from a 2016 incident be returned from South Korea as a precondition for the revival of cross-border reunions, as negotiators tried to hammer out a deal for the North's participation in February's PyeongChang Olympics.
north korea, defector, return
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2018-33-17
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 06:33 AM
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