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Number of N.K. defectors falls 21 pct on-year in H1: data

All News 09:28 July 12, 2017

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) --The number of North Koreans escaping to South Korea declined 20.8 percent in the first half from a year earlier, government data showed Wednesday, as the North has been strengthening border control.

A total of 593 North Koreans came to South Korea in the January-June period, compared with 749 tallied last year, according to preliminary data by the Ministry of Unification.

As of end-June, the total number of North Korean defectors stood at 30,805, the data showed. The tally topped the 30,000 mark in November last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have ordered tightened surveillance over people since he assumed power in late 2011.

Since the second half of 2015, North Korea has bolstered border control and set up high-tension wires around the Tumen River, which flows between the North and China, to prevent more North Koreans from escaping the country, according to a report by the Korea Institute for National Unification.

North Korean female defectors accounted for 85 percent of the total in the first half, the data showed.

The yearly number of defectors reaching the South peaked at 2,914 in 2009, but the pace of growth had fallen off since 2011.

But last year, the pace of annual growth of the North defectors picked up for the first time since 2011. Defections by North Korean elites also rose in 2016 amid tightened international sanctions, government officials said.

Number of N.K. defectors falls 21 pct on-year in H1: data - 1


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