The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has asked North Korea to reveal what happened to 12 people who were abducted during a bizarre campaign in the 1970s and 80s.
The Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights on Sunday said WGEID sent an official request to North Korea on Dec. 11 to confirm the fate of 12 abduction victims.
The activists said it is "very rare" for the UN to ask about 12 people at once and a sign that it is beginning to take the matter seriously.
Since 2004, the families of 29 abduction victims have asked the UN to determine what happened to them, but the working group only has so far only requested information from Pyongyang about seven of them.
Former vice unification minister Kim Suk-woo said the move "suggests the UN is no longer willing to condone the dire human rights situation in North Korea."
North Korea denies the abduction of scores of South Koreans during the Cold War, mostly fishermen, who were apparently put to work training North Korean spies.