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Over 800 North Koreans have defected to S. Korea this year

All Headlines 15:41 November 06, 2019

SEOUL Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- Over 800 North Koreans have defected to South Korea so far in 2019, government data showed Wednesday, indicating their annual figure will be similar to a level recorded a year earlier.

A total of 828 North Koreans defected to the South during the January-October period, according to the data provided by the unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs.

At the current rate, the annual number of North Koreans settling here is expected to be similar with the 1,137 registered last year.

The annual number of North Korean defectors peaked in 2009 with 2,914. The figure has averaged around 1,000-1,500 since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in late 2011.

Currently, about 32,000 North Korean defectors are living in South Korea.

With the number of North Korean defectors on the rise, calls are growing for more attention to be paid to some of those people confronting dire living conditions due to a lack of job stability and social network to depend upon.

In July, a 42-year-old female North Korean defector and her 6-year-old son were found dead in their apartment in Seoul presumably due to starvation, raising the need to draw up ways to fill the welfare "blind spot" for such new settlers.

Over 800 North Koreans have defected to S. Korea this year - 1

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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