September 23, 2023
Border Controls

Fewest ever North Korean defectors reached South in 2021: Data

Unification ministry says just 63 defectors arrived last year, declining from more than 1,000 prior to pandemic controls

Only 63 North Korean defectors entered South Korea throughout all of 2021, Seoul’s unification ministry announced on Thursday, the fewest ever recorded in a calendar year and a dramatic decline from over 1,000 defectors annually prior to the pandemic.

A ministry official explained that the precipitous decrease in the number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea is likely the result of the DPRK’s extreme COVID-19 border controls, as well as travel restrictions in so-called transit countries.