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More than 23,000 N. Korean defectors settle in S. Korea

All Headlines 11:50 January 11, 2012

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- More than 23,000 North Korean defectors have settled in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, government data showed Wednesday, indicating a constant stream of North Koreans fleeing their repressive regime.

A total of 23,100 North Koreans had defected to the South as of the end of last year, including 2,737 defectors who arrived here last year, according to data from the Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean relations.

The number of new arrivals increased 15 percent last year from 2,379 in 2010, the data showed. At least 2,000 North Koreans have defected to the South each year since 2006, with a record 2,927 defectors arriving here in 2009.

By gender, 70 percent of last year's new arrivals were women.

As of June 2011, 32 percent of North Korean defectors in the South were in their 30s, while 27 percent were in their 20s. About 70 percent had completed middle or high school before escaping their country. About half had been without jobs, while some 38 percent worked as laborers.

South Korea has a longstanding policy to accept any North Korean defectors who wish to live in the South.

hague@yna.co.kr
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