South Korea lawyers’ ‘kidnapping’ claims to be investigated

June 15 (UPI) — A prosecutor will probe the claims of a lawyers group that a group of North Korean waitresses in China were “lured and kidnapped” by South Korean agents.

The lawyers group, Minbyun, and their claims will come under investigation starting Monday, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Minbyun members who will be summoned to Seoul Central District next week include attorney Jang Kyung-wook, who has accused specific ex-officials of violating the law.

Jang had said in May the waitresses and their manager were coerced into leaving China. He had also said top officials, including former Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, a top spy agency official in charge of overseas affairs, and others, were apprised of the case.

The movement toward engagement with North Korea has emboldened other activists, including members of the People’s Sovereignty Solidarity, to charge sitting officials for not addressing the issue of the defectors.

At a rally on Friday in central Seoul, the group said current Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyun should be dismissed for failing to properly address the waitresses’ case, Seoul Daily reported.

“We have filed charges with the Seoul Central District Court, on the grounds [Cho] is not playing his part properly,” the activists said.

Cho was negligent in his duties, they said, because he did not address the issue of the waitresses after their manager appeared on a South Korean television network, claiming they were forced to leave and coerced by the South’s spies.

“Cho is a stumbling block to the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration,” the group said, referring to the agreement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un.

The activists did not address the anxieties among North Koreans resettled in the South, or their past experience of human rights violations in the North upon their return.

Forcible repatriation is often followed by punishment, according to defectors who have spoken to UPI.