[NK News] Number of North Korean defectors who reached South tripled to 196 last year

27 Mar 2024

On January 18, 2024, NK News reported on the recent increase in the number of North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea. A total of 196 North Korean escapees reached South Korea in 2023 — more than three times the previous year but still far below annual pre-pandemic numbers. Among them, there is a high number of “elite defectors” such as senior DPRK officials who very likely escaped after the reopening of North Korea’s border with China upon the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) identifies three groups of escapees arriving post-2020: North Korean women, North Korean overseas laborers, and DPRK trade officials and diplomats. Many escaped via new routes such as the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, reflecting new difficulties.

(NKDB Hanna Song) “The opening of the borders perhaps made diplomats rethink what their lives would be if they were to come back and … given North Korea's current place in the world, whether they'd ever then be able to leave again.” 

(NKDB Hanna Song) “North Korea will be a lot more conscious about who it sends abroad. New diplomats sent abroad will likely be more ideologically trained.”

You can find the full article on the NK News website by clicking HERE.