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One New Trouble Spot Ahead of Korea Summit: 12 Women

North says restaurant workers were kidnapped, while South says they defected
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2018 6:22 AM CDT
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet again in Pyongyang sometime in September.   (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP. Pool, File)
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(Newser) – What was unprecedented in April is now becoming ... routine? The leaders of North and South Korea will meet again sometime in September, their third such meeting in five months, reports CNN. This time, however, the South's Moon Jae-in will travel to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong Un. High-level officials from the two nations announced the meeting after talks in the Demilitarized Zone on Monday. No agenda has been released, but the two sides have been discussing everything from a possible peace declaration to economic projects, notes Reuters. One potential sore spot: The plight of 12 North Korean women now in South Korea as restaurant workers.

The North claims they were kidnapped—or perhaps tricked into defecting—and must be returned, while the South maintains they defected of their own accord in 2016 through China, per Yonhap News. "If our female citizens' repatriation issue is not resolved as quickly as possible, it could serve as an obstacle not just to the planned reunions of separated families between the two Koreas but also to the overall inter-Korean relations," said Uriminzokkiri, a propaganda website for the North, last month. South Korean officials declined to say if the issue came up in Monday's talks. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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