N.K. calls for return of female defectors at U.N. meeting

SEOUL-- North Korea has called for South Korea to immediately return a group of 13 North Korean restaurant workers, who defected to South Korea en masse last year, to the country at a U.N. meeting, asserting the South abducted them, the North's state-run news wire reported Wednesday.

A North Korean delegate made the call at the 61st session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that opened at the U.N. headquarters in New York on March 13, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Since April last year when the restaurant workers escaped to the South, Pyongyang has persistently demanded their immediate repatriation, but Seoul rejected the request, saying their defection was completely of their own free will.

The North Koreans -- one male manager and 12 female employees -- worked at a restaurant in the Chinese eastern port city of Ningbo.

"They (the South Korean authorities) also still detain Kim Ryon-hui, a North Korean woman citizen, who was deceived to be drafted to South Korea in 2011," the agency cited the delegate as saying at the meeting.

Kim is currently in prison, as she was found to have conducted spy activities after posing as a defector entering the South.

"North Korea calls on the CSW and U.N. member nations to condemn the allured abduction and forcible detainment of the woman and girls as outrageous human rights violations, crimes against humanity," the delegate was quoted as saying.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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