Challenge to 12 defectors shot down for 3rd time

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Challenge to 12 defectors shot down for 3rd time

The Supreme Court said Wednesday it has upheld lower courts’ decisions to dismiss a request from a group of progressive lawyers to question a group of 12 former North Korean restaurant workers who defected to South Korea last year.

Members of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, filed a petition in May last year demanding they be allowed access to the former employees of a North Korean restaurant in China to ascertain if their defections were forced or voluntary.

The 12 employees, 11 women and one male manager, worked at a North Korean restaurant in China before arriving in Seoul in April 2016.

Pyongyang has claimed that Seoul’s spy agency lured them, and called for their immediate repatriation. South Korea said they defected on their own free will.

South Korea’s district and appellate courts rejected Minbyun’s petition, saying the North Koreans already left their resettlement center in the South last summer and there was no evidence or circumstances indicating their freedom was restrained.

The Supreme Court endorsed the lower courts’ decision.

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