North Korea is demanding that a meeting be set up between a dozen recent defectors it claims were abducted by South Korea and their parents, or the south will face “strong retaliatory action.”
The twelve women worked in a North Korean restaurant in China before they arrived in the South earlier this month. South Korean leaders say the women came of their own free will, while the North claims the women were essentially kidnapped by spies who tricked them into defecting.
“The recent case is a premeditated and organized group abduction which [the South] committed by mobilizing gangsters of the puppet Intelligence Service,” North Korea's Red Cross said in a statement issued through the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “The families who have their beloved daughters abducted in broad daylight are earnestly asking for direct contact with them as early as possible.”
The spokesman said North Korea will send the parents to Panmunjom – or even Seoul – if necessary to secure the meeting. Panmunjom is a truce village along the Korean border where the two countries engage in diplomatic talks.
Should the South decline the meeting, it only serves as “self-admitting the group abduction,” the statement said.
North Korea is notoriously harsh against would-be defectors, often subjecting those who are unsuccessful in escaping to severe punishment.