February 24, 2024

Why fewer and fewer North Korean defectors are making it to South Korea

Growing repression and increased border security have made it harder than ever for escapees

Every January, analysts review the updated statistics on the number of North Korean defectors that entered South Korea the previous year. Since the beginning of Kim Jong Un's rule in 2012, these numbers have become a cause of increasing concern: the numbers of defections have seen a sharp decline. 

This year’s statistics continued this pattern, showing one of the lowest ever registered numbers with a little over 1000 North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea in 2019.