12 defectors enrolled at university in South

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12 defectors enrolled at university in South

A dozen former North Korean restaurant workers have enrolled at a South Korean university nearly a year after their defection, a government official in Seoul said Sunday.

The official said the 12 women were recently granted special admission to the institution, whose identity was withheld. The official added that the defectors felt post-secondary education would be essential to their adjustment to the South, and that they each selected their majors.

Those 12, along with a male manager, defected to the South in April, leaving a Pyongyang-run restaurant in the Chinese eastern port city of Ningbo. The female defectors are mostly in their early- to mid-20s. They began their resettlement process in August, though no further details were disclosed due to concerns over their safety.

North Korea has claimed the workers were abducted by Seoul’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, and has demanded their repatriation.

Restaurants operated by North Korea in foreign countries have served as a major source of hard currency for the country. The North is suspected of using the money to bankroll its nuclear and missile programs.

North Koreans employed by foreign restaurants are among the 50,000 workers sent abroad by the regime to help it tackle economic hardships amid UN sanctions.

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