Seoul has instructed its foreign embassies to take extra precautions against possible North Korean attempts to kidnap or attack South Koreans abroad, officials said on Monday.
The instruction was issued in response to North Korea’s threat to retaliate for last month’s group defection by 13 North Koreans, who Pyongyang says were kidnapped by South Korean spies while working at a North Korea-owned restaurant in China.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee reiterated Monday the 13 North Koreans decided on their own to resettle in the South. He said South Korea keeps close tabs on possible North Korean responses like an attempt to abduct or attack South Korean citizens in foreign countries.
The Foreign Ministry said it has instructed its overseas diplomatic facilities to be extra careful about the safety of its personnel and South Koreans staying abroad. It didn’t elaborate.
Defections are a contentious issue for the rival Koreas.