North Korean workers defect from overseas restaurant, says South

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The national flags of North Korea and China are hung in front of a North Korean restaurant October 9, 2006 at the border city of Dandong, Liaoning Province of China.Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
North Korea operates restaurants staffed by its citizens in several countries

A group of North Koreans working at a state-run restaurant overseas have defected, South Korea has confirmed.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said that the workers had "broken away", but refused to comment further. It said they would now come to South Korea.

Yonhap News Agency, citing an unidentified source, said the defectors had been in China but were currently in a third country in South East Asia.

This would be the second restaurant defection this year.

In April, a group of 13 North Koreans workers defected to South Korea from a restaurant in Ningbo, China.

Pyongyang has accused Seoul of abducting them, but Seoul strongly denies this.

North Korea runs some 130 restaurants in other countries, a vital source of income.

The staff are usually chosen for their loyalty to the North Korean leadership.