January 23, 2022

Unification ministry refutes report that 771 defectors have fled South Korea

Seoul says fraction of that number has emigrated to third country, amid concerns over North Korean defectors’ well-being

Seoul’s unification ministry has dismissed a local news report that claimed nearly 800 North Korean defectors left South Korea to settle in a third country in recent years, asserting that the actual number is a small fraction of that.

In a statement on Monday, ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said that only 20 defectors who originally settled in South Korea emigrated to another country from 2016 to 2020. The rebuttal comes after a defector’s dramatic return to North Korea across the inter-Korean border on Jan. 1 drew renewed attention to the difficult lives of many defectors in the South.