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North Korea rejects U.N. report on abductions, separated families
December 13, 2016 / 7:09 PM / a year ago

North Korea rejects U.N. report on abductions, separated families

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea protested on Tuesday against a U.N. report on alleged abductions of foreign nationals by Pyongyang and the many Korean families forcibly separated across the divided peninsula since the 1950s war.

File photo of So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, attending an interview with Reuters at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

So Se Pyong, the North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said he would lodge the complaint to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein on Tuesday. Zeid’s spokesman confirmed that the meeting was scheduled but would not comment further.

“It’s really nonsense. We didn’t make that kind of abductions,” So told Reuters at the Geneva mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“This is not fair and also not impartial, it is just against the (U.N.) office’s mission in principle,” he said.

The report, issued last week by Zeid’s office, referred to international abductions as a “well-documented practice” by the North, targeting nationals of South Korea and Japan.

It said that since the Korean war ended in 1953, an estimated 129,616 people had registered for reunion with their families in North Korea, but that more than half have now died without being reunited.

File photo of So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, attending an interview with Reuters at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Tensions between North and South Korea have been particularly high since the North’s fourth nuclear test in January.

For the latest reunion after more than six decades of separation, nearly 400 South Koreans crossed the heavily armed border into North Korea in October 2015.

So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, gestures during an interview with Reuters at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The reunions remain suspended due to joint military exercises conducted by South Korea and the United States, So said.

“If the situation is okay, and it’s peaceful and all the tension is calmed down, it will happen, this reunion. Because we are always open for those reunions of the separated families.”

So called on the United Nations to help secure the return of 13 young North Korean restaurant workers whom his government says were abducted in China last year by South Korean agents.

“They seduced and finally abducted them to South Korea,” he said. “We...asked the (U.N.) office just if you really want to do something for the human rights case, ask South Korean authorities to release these abducted girls.”

So, asked if their release was a condition for resuming family visits, said: “It is not the condition, it is their duty, their mission to do instead of doing this kind of report.”

Editing by Mark Heinrich

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