The ladies, all of their 20s, symbolize a few of the most trusted residents within the North Korean capital. They arrive from good households and have been chosen for the coveted task of working overseas to earn cash for his or her authorities.
Till earlier this month, they have been waitresses at a state-owned and operated restaurant in Ningbo Metropolis, Zhejiang Province, in southern China. Now, that restaurant is closed. And these ladies’s lives have turn into terribly difficult.
“We might by no means depart our mother and father, nation, and chief Kim Jong Un. None of us would ever do this,” stated waitress Han Yun Hui, sobbing alongside her colleagues.
“The employees stated that they discovered concerning the actuality in South Korea by way of South Korean TV, cleaning soap operas, films and (the) web,” stated South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee on the time.
A spokesman for the North Korean Purple Cross shortly denounced the obvious defections as a “group abduction” of North Korean staff “in broad daylight,” based on KCNA — the official mouthpiece of Supreme Chief Kim Jong Un’s authorities.
The seven waitresses, introduced solely to a CNN staff in Pyongyang on Monday, are staff from the identical Ningbo restaurant, who’ve since returned to North Korea. That is the primary time they’ve spoken publicly. They declare the restaurant supervisor tricked the opposite 12 waitresses into leaving, by mendacity about their last vacation spot.
“In mid-March our restaurant supervisor gathered us collectively and informed us that our restaurant can be moved to someplace in Southeast Asia,” stated head waitress Choe Hye Yong.
Choe says by the point the supervisor revealed, solely to her, that they might truly be defecting to South Korea, she solely had time to “warn” a handful of the waitresses.
“The automotive was already ready for us at the moment,” Choe stated as she broke down in tears.
The waitresses in Pyongyang declare their supervisor, and a South Korean businessman, coordinated the journey beneath the path of presidency authorities in Seoul.
“I take into consideration our colleagues being deceived and dragged to South Korea and dealing with excessive hardship there,” stated a sobbing Han Yun Hui. “It tears our hearts.”
In response, the South Korean Unification Ministry issued a press release to CNN: “thirteen defectors voluntarily determined to go away and pushed forward with the escape with none assist from the surface. Following their voluntary request to defect, our authorities accepted them from a humanitarian viewpoint.”
If true, a mass defection can be a humiliating blow to the Pyongyang management. Particularly as a result of it was apparently allowed by China, North Korea’s strongest ally and buying and selling associate. Up to now, China has despatched defectors again to North Korea. However final week, Ministry of Overseas Affairs spokesman Lu Kang made the weird transfer of commenting publicly concerning the case.
Many analysts consider China’s actions could possibly be an indication of elevated pressure between Pyongyang and Beijing. Supreme Chief Kim Jong Un’s authorities faces rising isolation and heightened sanctions over its nuclear and missile packages. Ongoing allegations of widespread human rights abuse made by the United Nations Fee on Human Rights proceed to infuriate North Korean management.
The North Korean authorities is believed to subsidize its army and scientific actions by sending tens of hundreds of residents to work overseas, bringing in an estimated $1.2 billion to $2.three billion yearly, in response to a U.N. report final fall.
When requested if she had a message for her buddies and colleagues who at the moment are in South Korea, head waitress Choe Hye Yong made an emotional plea.
“Comrade Kim Jong Un is craving for all of you to return. We’re awaiting your return, unable to sleep or eat. Please maintain on a bit longer, achieve victory, and are available again to our nation,” she stated.
Nonetheless wiping away tears, the waitresses stroll again by means of the lodge foyer to the door they got here from. Their lives are perpetually modified. They now face the heavy burden of explaining why their buddies left house and did not come again.
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