North Koreans defect from restaurant

A man looks at the military wire fences attached with South Korean national flags at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border with North Korea, in Paju, South Korea, Friday, March 18, 2016.Image copyright

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The two Koreas are separated by a heavily fortified, demilitarised zone

Thirteen North Koreans working at the same restaurant abroad have defected to South Korea, Seoul officials say.

People have defected from North Korean restaurants overseas before but this is the first mass escape from the same one, a South Korean official said.

Overseas North Korean workers are usually thought to be chosen largely because of their loyalty.

North Korean defections are a bitter point of contention between the two Koreas.

Pyongyang has accused Seoul of enticing North Korean citizens to defect, something Seoul denies.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee said one man and 12 women arrived in the South on Thursday.

Mr Jeong did not reveal where they were working to avoid causing diplomatic rifts or endangering North Koreans still working in the country.

The defectors said they learned about the South by watching South Korean TV dramas online and began to distrust North Korean propaganda, Mr Jeong said.

The Unification Ministry’s website says more than 29,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea as of March.

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