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South Korea Rejects North's Plan to Reunite Defectors

  • VOA News

North Korea said Friday it has decided to send to Seoul the relatives of a group of defectors it says were kidnapped by the South.

Seoul has rejected the move for the face-to-face meeting, saying the twelve women decided on their own to resettle in the South.

Pyongyang has already warned about "strong retaliatory action" if the South did not facilitate the meeting.

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."

Pyongyang says a rejection of the meeting by the South is an admission the South abducted the women.

The South says the workers collectively planned their defection while they were working in China and came to the South of their own free will.

The North claims the workers were essentially kidnapped by spies who tricked them into defecting.

Pyongyang proposed to send the northern relatives of the women to Seoul via Panmunjom, a U.N.-truce village on the inter-Korean border.

North Korea is notoriously harsh against would-be defectors, often subjecting those who are unsuccessful in escaping to severe punishment.