01:17 GMT14 June 2021
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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - The number of people who left North Korea for South Korea has significantly decreased under North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and amounted to just over 700 in 2018 so far, the Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, citing spokesman for the ruling South Korean Democratic Party Park Byeong-seug.

    The number of defectors has been steadily declining since 2012, soon after Kim came to power following his father's death, the news agency reported.

    READ MORE: North Korea Rejects Unilateral Disarmament Amid Lack of Trust in US — FM

    According to the spokesman, who cited data of the country's Unification Ministry, while over 2,700 North Korean citizens have fled the country in 2011, just over 1,500 people reached South Korea from the north in 2012, the outlet added.

    In 2017, the number stood at 1,127, and only 703 people have defected from North Korea in 2018 as of August.

    Park added that North Koreans might be discouraged from defecting from their country because of stricter border control on the North Korean-Chinese border and rising costs of hiring brokers, the news outlet reported.

    Many North Koreans have been using China as a transit point on their way to South Korea.


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    border control, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea
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