Do Many South Koreans Defect to North Korea?

There have been fewer than five known defectors from South Korea to North Korea since the Korean War. In contrast, there have been about 27,000 North Korean defectors to South Korea. This is in addition to the estimated hundreds of thousands of North Koreans who defect and flee to China or Russia.

The Korean War ended in 1953 resulting in Korea being divided into North and South. The border between the two countries is considered the most heavily militarized in the world. Consequently, most North Koreans will attempt escape through the border with China.

North Korea is a totalitarian state, infamous for human rights abuses, and is currently suffering from a food crisis resulting from a famine in the 1990s.

More about North Korea:

  • Amnesty International estimates about 100,000 people, including children, are detained in North Korean prison camps.
  • The GDP in North Korea is about $620 per capita. In South Korea, the GDP is close to $29,000 per capita.
  • Kim Jong-il, the Supreme Leader of North Korea until his death in 2011, was estimated to spend the equivalent of 1.2 million US each year on cognac.

Discussion Comments


Isn't it time that there are more efforts to help north Koreans escape this tyrant and his regime? The sooner it collapses economically, the safer the world will be. Sanctions against North Korea should be ramped up until the people have had enough of this tyrant.

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