ROK rejects return of 13 defectors to DPRK

Updated: 2016-04-13 14:52


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SEOUL -- The Republic of Korea (ROK) on Wednesday rejected the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s demand to return its 13 nationals, said to have defected to South Korea, back home, Seoul's unification ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that the group defection of DPRK nationals to the ROK was made in a sheer accordance with their free will, urging Pyongyang to stop unreasonable insistence and threats of provocations.

It called for the DPRK to give up its nuclear and missile programs that provide no benefit for DPRK people.

The DPRK demanded Tuesday that South Korea return 13 DPRK nationals who Seoul claimed were defectors to the ROK, saying that Seoul's spy agency lured and abducted the 13 individuals who worked at a state-run restaurant in China.

Seoul's unification ministry said last Friday that the group defected to the ROK last week, marking the first time that a group of DPRK citizens working at the same overseas restaurant fled to the ROK.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed Monday that 13 DPRK nationals entered and left China legally with valid passports last week. He made the remarks at a briefing when asked to comment on a report.