SEOUL, June 28 (UPI) — Several North Korean women reportedly defected from a work site in the Chinese city of Dandong – a month after a group of waitresses fled a state-run restaurant in central China.
Kim Seong-min, a defector in South Korea who heads Free North Korea Radio, said seven or eight North Korean women escaped their place of work on Saturday, South Korean news service Newsis reported Tuesday.
In response, North Korea’s state security department dispatched agents to China to track down the women, with the cooperation of Chinese security, Kim said.
Kim told Yonhap the women were all in their 20s, and they were working at a Chinese-owned company, although he did not specify whether the site was a factory or another establishment.
According to Kim, North Korea’s state security department was recently the target of direct criticism from Kim Jong Un. The North Korean response to the news was swift, he said.
“The North Korean state security apparatus and China’s security have formed a cooperative faction and are monitoring the residents in Dandong, but the [defectors’] whereabouts are undetermined,” Kim said. “It is very likely they will come to South Korea.”
A South Korean government official said Seoul is confirming the veracity of the recent defections.
There are now nearly 30,000 North Korean defectors who have resettled in the South, and their numbers continue to grow.
But with the increase in population, more North Korean defectors are attempting to return to the North – for various reasons.
South Korea’s Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday it has two defectors in custody – a former Korean People’s Army sergeant who resettled in the South in August 2014, who was trying to return to the North because of money problems, and a woman in her 20s who attempted to return because she was told a family member in the North was in trouble.