January 04, 2017 09:51
The number of North Korean defectors that settled in South Korea in 2016 topped 1,400, the highest figure since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to power some five years ago.
The Unification Ministry says last year's total is 11 percent higher than 2015. Having peaking at 2,900 in 2009, the figure dropped to some 1,500 in 2012 before declining further until 2015.
The rebound in defector numbers is attributed to Kim's reign of fear and strong international sanctions on the regime. A ministry official says there was a big increase of defections of North Koreans who have lived or worked in a third country or the country's elites.
Around 30,000 North Korean defectors currently live in South Korea.
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