With North Korea continuing to test its ballistic missiles and launching them over Japan, the tension in the region appears to be deepening.
Given the political situation and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s penchant for firing ICBMS across the ocean, a diplomatic resolution of the crisis seems to be the only viable option. Now, if South Korean President Moon Jae-in's recent speech about “the importance of the process leading to unification” is anything to go by, Seoul wants to have peace talks and work towards the reunification of the two estranged states.
However, all North Korea wants is its alleged defectors back, according to a recent report by PRI.
While a number of people have defected to the South over the past year due to increasing sanctions, poverty and, frankly, lack of liberty in the hermit kingdom.
Kim’s government reportedly wants 12 defectors in particular — all of whom worked at a North Korean restaurant in Ningbo City, China. These women were covertly chosen by Kim’s leadership to work abroad to earn money for their government.
Last year, the servers in question made headlines after they fled to South Korea. However, it was not a simple defection, according to their colleagues, who have since returned to their homeland.
“We would never leave our parents, country, and leader Kim Jong-un. None of us would ever do that,” waitress named Han Yun Hui told CNN at the time, claiming the other 12 women and one man were “tricked” into leaving China. “In mid-March our restaurant manager gathered us together and told us that our restaurant would be moved to somewhere in Southeast Asia. The car was already waiting for us at that time.”
As the PRI reports, a team of lawyers known as Minbyun who work on politically charged, pro bono cases, has been collecting the details of the unusual defection for quite some time. Moon also used to be a member of the team also known as Lawyers for a Democratic Society.
“We’re trying to investigate the truth,” said Jang Kyung-uk, a Minbyun attorney. “We do believe this was an organized kidnapping by the South Korean intelligence services.”
While there is no hard evidence, the circumstances surrounding the case have made it so bizarre. First, it was the first time such a big group of people, much less those trusted to earn for Kim’s government from abroad, had defected together. Secondly, the usual procedure for the defectors is to learn about daily life in South Korea and get some psychological help. After three months, the South Korean government grants them citizenship and they are free to do as they please.
However, the 12 waitresses from DPRK are nowhere to be found. The intelligence agencies took them in for some months-long debriefing session, according to PRI, and the women have not been seen in public.
“We can’t track them down,” Jang added.
With peace talks hanging in the balance, it is scary to think these 12 women could become one of the reasons for war in the region.
Thumbnail/Banner: Pixabay, pedroserapio