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No. of defections by North Koreans falls 21 pct in 2017: data

All News 10:46 January 05, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea declined 21 percent in 2017 from the previous year, government data showed Friday. The drop comes as North Korea has been strengthening border control.

A total of 1,127 North Koreans came to South Korea last year, down from 1,418 in 2016, according to preliminary unification ministry data.

As of the end of December, the total number of North Korean defectors in South Korea stood at 31,339. The tally topped the 30,000 mark in November 2016.

The 2017 total marked the fewest defections since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in late 2011.

No. of defections by North Koreans falls 21 pct in 2017: data - 1

Kim is believed to have ordered tightened surveillance in North Korea.

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 the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Last year, 83 percent of all North Korean defectors were female, the data showed. Of total refugees, seventy-one percent are women.

The yearly number of defectors reaching the South peaked at 2,914 in 2009. The numbers have mostly declined since 2011.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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