North Korea demands Seoul to return 12 waitresses who were abducted from China

Pyongyang: North Korea stepped up its calls Tuesday for South Korea to return 12 waitresses whom Pyongyang says Seoul abducted from a restaurant in China.

Seoul says the waitresses willingly defected to the South.

North Korean authorities on Tuesday presented the colleagues and parents of the waitresses to North Korean and international media in Pyongyang. North Korea says the women were tricked into thinking they were being transferred to work at another restaurant in Malaysia.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

On April 8, South Korean authorities announced the arrival of 13 North Koreans in the South — the 12 waitresses and their manager. Since then, North Korean authorities have issued repeated statements calling on Seoul to return the waitresses or let their parents go to Seoul to meet them.

Colleagues of the waitresses said their manager told them they were moving to Malaysia to work in another restaurant there and that the waitresses who got on a bus from their restaurant to go on the journey thought Malaysia was their final destination.

Waitress Choe Rye Yong said that as the waitresses were being organized to leave she overheard her manager refer to a man with him as "team leader" from the South Korean National Intelligence Service. That made her warn her colleagues, who had not yet gotten on the bus, to stay away.

The waitresses were all working at a restaurant called the Azalea Friendship Restaurant in Ningbo, China.

They said they had previously worked at another North Korean-run restaurant in Yanji, in the northeast of China.

Updated Date: May 03, 2016 12:00 PM

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