• Bitter row over NKorea defectors moves to Seoul court


    SEOUL: A Seoul court convened a rare hearing on Tuesday into the welfare of a dozen North Korean defectors who South Korea says escaped of their own free will but Pyongyang insists were abducted. The closed-door session pitted officials from South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, (NIS) against a group of human rights lawyers who contend the 12 women are being illegally detained. All 12 were waitresses at a North Korean-run restaurant in China who arrived in the South in April, making headlines as the largest group defection in years. While Seoul says they fled to the South voluntarily, Pyongyang claims they were kidnapped by NIS agents and has waged a campaign through its state media for their immediate return.



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