Number of N. Korean defectors rising, Seoul says
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 08, 2016
SEOUL, South Korea — The high-profile defection of a senior North Korean diplomat was part of a growing trend of people fleeing to the South this year, according to government statistics released Wednesday.
The Unification Ministry in Seoul said 894 North Koreans defected from January through August, a 15 percent increase compared with 777 who fled to the South in the same period last year.
That raises the total number of North Korean defections to 29,688, with the figure on pace to surpass 30,000 by the end of the year, the ministry said.
The peninsula was split into a U.S.-backed South and a Soviet-backed North in the wake of World War II. The two sides fought a bitter war from 1950-53 and remain divided by the world’s most heavily militarized border after that fighting ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.