April 28, 2016 09:56
All 20 North Korean waitresses in a restaurant in Ningbo, China wanted to defect to South Korea early this month, but seven decided not to come because of their families back in the North, the National Intelligence Service here said Wednesday.
The NIS was defending itself in the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee against North Korean claims that it abducted them.
The seven decided not to join their defecting colleagues at the last minute, the NIS said.
The seven were paraded before CNN in Pyongyang recently, where they claimed the defection was an abduction orchestrated by South Korean authorities.
But the NIS said the 13 others left China on their own using their valid North Korean passports.
The spy agency said many North Korean restaurants in China and other countries have closed as customers kept away amid international sanctions against the North.
Meanwhile, the NIS said North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test and officials are only waiting for the go-ahead from leader Kim Jong-un.
And it added that the recent test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile was the most successful yet, though it did not fly very far, suggesting the weapon could be warfare-ready in three or four years.
In other news, the NIS said the North Korean regime did not bother inviting foreign dignitaries to an imminent Workers Party congress, though it is giving access to international media.
Business in North Korean markets is slow as people are being press-ganged into preparations for the party congress, giving rise to some discontent among ordinary people.
The regime announced the same day that the first party congress in 36 years will start in Pyongyang on May 6.
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