Update: South Korea’s Ministry of Unification have rejected the offer in a short statement released on Friday. “The group defection from North Korea was totally according to their free will. The family reunion that KCNA released is unacceptable,” the MoU said.
North Korea has offered to send the families of a recent group of defectors to Panmunjom or Seoul in order for them to be reunited, according to an article published by state media on Thursday.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) article, carrying a statement by an unnamed spokesperson from North Korea’s Central Committee of the Red Cross Society, also demanded the return of the 13 defectors.
“The families who have had their beloved daughters abducted in broad daylight are earnestly asking for direct contact with them as early as possible,” the statement read.
“We will send the parents to Panmunjom or to Seoul, if necessary, so that they could meet face to face with their daughters. What we want is to let the daughters meet their parents and directly clarify their stand.”
Panmunjom is the village that lies within the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
On April 8 South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MoU) announced that 13 North Koreans, one male and 12 females, had escaped a state-run restaurant overseas and defected to the south.
It was later revealed that the 13 were working at a restaurant located in Ningbo in Zhejiang Province, China.
North Korea has disputed the MoU claim that the individuals left voluntarily and has since described the defection as a “group abduction” carried out by South Korea’s intelligence service, an accusation that Seoul rejects.
In Thursday’s statement the spokesperson also said that the north has “detailed data” proving their abduction claim and are ready to disclose it “before the world.”
In a further effort to bolster its claim, North Korean authorities set up an interview between CNN and colleagues of the 13 defectors in Pyongyang on Thursday.
The former workers said that their manager lied to and coerced the other 12 women into leaving China for a Southeast Asian country under the guise of relocating for work.
The defectors arrived in China for Seoul via a third country not since identified by the South Korean government due to sensitivities surrounding the case.
“To my loving friends, our leader Kim Jong Un is waiting for you, parents and siblings are waiting for you, please come back,” one restaurant worker said during the interview.
The KCNA article also contained renewed threats aimed at Seoul over the incident and the latest offer for a reunion.
“If the puppet group does neither respond to the demand for the direct contact with parents nor send back the citizens of the DPRK while keeping them in custody … will launch strong retaliatory action with various methods against the group of traitors,” it added.
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Featured Image: Panmunjom by berlinrider on 2015-06-04 14:39:36