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Seoul says N.K. defector presumed as border crosser received due settlement support

North Korea 13:19 January 04, 2022

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- The North Korean defector who is presumed to have crossed the tense inter-Korean border to return home last week had received due resettlement support from the South Korean government, Seoul's unification ministry said Tuesday, amid reports he suffered economic difficulties after his defection.

The man crossed the heavily fortified eastern border into the North over the weekend, about a year after he reached the South, also using an eastern front-line route in November 2020, according to the military.

Following media reports he could have opted to return home due to economic difficulties, a unification ministry official said the government provided due support granted for North Korean defectors settling in the South. The presumed border crosser, in his 30s, is known to have worked as a cleaner here.

"The defector had received overall support for safety, housing, medical care, employment and living in accordance with the North Korean Refugees Protection and Settlement Support Act," the official told reporters on background.

According to government data, at least 30 North Koreans went back to their communist homeland from South Korea in the past decade.

"Such returns stem from various and complex reasons, including yearning for family, and psychological and economic difficulties," the official said. "The government has been continuing efforts to improve our support programs to help them better resettle in the South."

As of 2020, 33,752 North Korean defectors were living in South Korea.

This photo taken Jan. 3, 2022, shows a piece of folded bedding laid at a site for recycling at an apartment complex in Seoul. A North Korean defector, who had been residing at the complex since he entered South Korea from the North through an eastern front-line route in November 2020, threw away the bedding and his other belongings, and went missing on Dec. 31, 2021. He is believed to be the person who crossed the eastern inter-Korean border into North Korea on Jan. 1, 2022, an official at South Korea's defense ministry said. (Yonhap)


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