Three defectors arrive in Seoul from Thailand

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Three defectors arrive in Seoul from Thailand

A group of North Koreans who escaped from a Pyongyang-run restaurant overseas have arrived in South Korea, the South’s government said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported three North Korean women who had been working at a restaurant in China arrived in the South on Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday by flight from Thailand.

This is the second group of North Korean restaurant workers to defect in recent weeks. Pyongyang has accused Seoul of kidnapping the 13 North Koreans who worked at a North Korea-run restaurant in eastern China before escaping and defecting to South Korea in April, and has repeatedly demanded their return. South Korea has denied the accusation and said the workers chose to resettle on their own.

South Korean officials believe overseas North Korean restaurants have been suffering economically since stronger international sanctions were applied against North Korea for its nuclear test and long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

The workers who defected in April have said that their restaurant was struggling to meet Pyongyang’s demands for foreign currency, according to Seoul officials.

South Korea’s spy service said earlier this year that North Korea was running about 130 restaurants overseas, mostly in China.

More than 29,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the South Korean government. AP
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