June 04, 2018 13:07
North Korea has submitted an official request to the UN urging it to help persuade South Korea to repatriate a group of North Korean workers who defected from a restaurant in China in 2016.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday claimed the North Korean mission in Geneva submitted an official document to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on May 30 demanding that the South Korean government "demonstrate its will to improve North-South relations" by repatriating the women. It urged the UNHCR to take "necessary steps."
The bizarre tactical swerve come just after the two Koreas held high-level talks to discuss ways to implement the joint declaration made at the historic inter-Korean summit in April.
North Korea accuses Seoul of abducting the 13 women, who were indentured laborers in a restaurant in Ningbo. The restaurant manager has since claimed on TV that he tricked the women into defecting at the behest of South Korea's National Intelligence Service.
Several of the women have debunked the story since it aired, but it gained some traction in the international press, which seems to have encouraged the North to try and use it as ammunition.
Pyongyang also claimed that South Korea's participation in the RIMPAC multinational military drills runs counter to the joint declaration, which envisages a peaceful Korean Peninsula through denuclearization and a peace treaty
The state-run Rodong Sinmun daily on Sunday slammed South Korea's participation as a "confrontation to the atmosphere of improving North-South relations."
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has apparently sacked his three top military officials, seemingly over disagreements about diplomacy.
People's Armed Forces Minister Pak Yong-sik has been replaced by a vice minister, No Kwang-chol, while Army chief Ri Myong-su was replaced by his deputy Ri Yong-gil. Already on May 26, the chief of the Army politburo, Kim Jong-gak, was replaced by a senior general, Kim Su-gil.
The reshuffle seems to be part of Kim Jong-un's ongoing power struggle with the unruly military and replaces hardliners with more biddable underlings.
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