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Int'l lawyers to visit Seoul, Pyongyang to probe N.K. restaurant workers' defection

A team of international lawyers will visit South and North Korea in the coming weeks to investigate a high-profile 2016 defection of a dozen North Korean restaurant workers, a Seoul-based lawyers' group said Saturday.

Members of two organizations -- the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific -- will arrive in Seoul on Sunday for a six-day stay and travel to Pyongyang next week for another six-day visit, according to the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun. 


The 12 North Korean waitresses working at a restaurant in Ningbo, a city in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, defected to the South in 2016, along with a manager. In an unusual move, South Korean authorities immediately released the news of the massive defection, five days ahead of general elections.

The international groups earlier formed a joint probe team to investigate if any human rights were violated in the process of the defection.

The investigation team plans to meet the defectors during their stay here and is also pushing to meet South Korean authorities over the issue.

They will leave Seoul on Friday and arrive in Pyongyang the next day via Beijing and meet the defectors' families and other officials related to the issue. They plan to leave the North Korean capital on Sept. 5.

The lawyers plan to report the results of their investigation to the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Human Rights Council, the group said. (Yonhap)