April 3 (UPI) — North Korea demanded the South repatriate the dozen North Korean waitresses who defected from a state-run restaurant in China in 2016, while charging Seoul of abducting the young women.
The message is being issued at a time when momentum is building in Washington to address North Korea’s own human rights abuses.
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, a bill that passed 394-1, according to the Washington Examiner.
North Korea has yet to respond to the bill’s passage, but on Tuesday, local time, Pyongyang’s propaganda outlet DPRK Today condemned Seoul while noting the one-year anniversary of the “kidnapping.”
“An apology for the group kidnapping must be issued, and proof the women are still alive must be disclosed immediately, before they are all returned to the bosoms of their families,” the North Korea statement read.
Pyongyang also claimed reports of the young women enrolling in South Korean universities were “ridiculing the sentiments of the people” and described the South Korean government as the “puppet party.”
“Where else in the world can we find such extreme impudence, such wicked, anti-humane brutality?” North Korea stated.
The waitresses who arrived in South Korea in April 2016 have been resettled in “various parts of South Korean society,” Seoul has said.
The group escaped from Ryugyong restaurant in Ningbo, China, and then entered South Korea.
Earlier on Sunday a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan denied North Korea had any connection to the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother Kim Jong Nam.
According to the Chosun Sinbo, a joint statement from North Korea and Malaysia confirmed Pyongyang had no part in the Kim Jong Nam case.
The newspaper also did not identify the older Kim and only referred to him as a holder of a North Korea diplomatic passport.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has previously cited the assassination as grounds for returning North Korea to the list of terrorism sponsors.