SEOUL, July 30 (UPI) -- A South Korean state human rights agency announced Monday it will conduct an investigation into a controversial trip of North Koreans to Seoul in 2016.
Amid growing suspicion over the case, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea said it felt the need for a prompt investigation. Recent media reports suggested South Korean intelligence and military agencies engaged in orchestrating the trip of North Korean restaurant workers from China to Seoul.
"The investigation will look into diverse aspects to the case such as whether the trip was voluntary, any illicit intervention of South Korean state agencies and legitimacy of the press briefing conducted by a government agency a day after their arrival in the country," it said in a press release on Monday.
The announcement came as a follow-up by a U.N. special rapporteur for North Korean human rights for a "thorough and independent investigation" into the case.
U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana visited Seoul earlier this month to assess human rights situations in the North. Quintana also conducted interviews with some of the North Korean restaurant workers who traveled to Seoul in April 2016.
Thirteen workers at a North Korean restaurant in the Chinese city of Ningbo made the trip. Their defection, however, has met suspicions the trip may not have been voluntary and involved with a possible political scam.
In response to the rapporteur's statement, South Korea's Unification Ministry said the workers went "voluntarily."