October 16, 2017 11:39
A total of 881 North Koreans defected to the South from January to September, down by about 15 percent on year, the Unification Ministry said Sunday.
The number of defectors has declined steadily since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in 2012. Experts attribute the drop to tightened border controls.
A Unification Ministry official said, "The number of North Koreans fleeing to South Korea has declined due to a drop in the overall number of people who are trying to escape from the North." The official added, "North Korea appears to have bolstered monitoring along its border."
It used to cost some W3 million to W5 million for defectors to bribe border officials to let them to pass through to China, but the amount has risen five-fold to W15 million, which is another reason behind the drop in the number of defectors to South Korea," said Cho Han-bum, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification (US$1=W1,130).
Meanwhile, about two dozen North Korean defectors have returned to the North since 2011 after apparently failing to settle down here. The Unification Ministry said five of them have returned to the South.
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