South Korea says 13 North Koreans working at the same restaurant in a foreign country have defected to the South.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee said people working in North Korean restaurants overseas have previously defected, but this is the first time multiple workers have defected from the same restaurant.

North Korean defections are a bitter point of contention between the rival Koreas. Pyongyang usually accuses Seoul of enticing North Koreans to defect.

North Korean workers overseas are usually thought to be chosen largely because of their loyalty.

Jeong said one male and 12 female North Korean workers arrived in the South on Thursday. He didn't reveal the country where they were working to avoid diplomatic problems and possibly endanger North Koreans still working in the country.