More than 1,500 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea last year, the unification ministry said Monday, despite Pyongyang's crackdown to stem the flow of defections.
The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said a total of 1,516 North Koreans settled in South Korea in 2013, up slightly from 2012 when 1,502 North Koreans arrived in the South, with women accounting for 76 percent of the total.
The ministry said South Korea is now home to 26,124 North Koreans.
Last year's tally is the latest reminder that a steady stream of North Koreans has crossed the border into China to avoid chronic food shortages and harsh political oppression.
North Korea has strengthened its patrol along the country's porous border with China to arrest those who try to flee the country, according to South Korean officials. (Yonhap News)