S. Korea says to respect "free will" of DPRK defectors

15:33, June 17, 2011      

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South Korea notified the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Friday that it will respect the" free will" of nine DPRK nationals who entered South Korea by boat last weekend, officials here said.

In response to Pyongyang's demand Thursday that the nine people and their boats be returned, Red Cross officials here said in a message to their DPRK counterparts that the nine people have expressed their wish to defect to South Korea during questioning by the authorities.

Pyongyang's Red Cross warned inter-Korean relations will further sour unless Seoul immediately returns the nine DPRK nationals -- three men, two women and four children.

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