The number of North Korean children attending elementary, middle and high schools after defecting to South Korea rose 8 percent this year from a year earlier, government data showed Thursday.
According to the data by the Ministry of Education, the number increased from 2,022 last year to 2,183 this year.
The number of students from North Korea has been on a steady rise in recent years -- from 966 in 2008 to 1,143 in 2009, 1,417 in 2010, 1,681 in 2011, 1,992 in 2012 and 2,022 in 2013.
Including the children, South Korea is now home to more than 26,000 North Korea defectors.
Of the 2,183 youth defectors who came to South Korea this year, 979, or 44.9 percent, were born in third countries, including China. The figure was up from last year's 840.
The dropout rate for such defectors decreased from 3.5 percent last year to 2.5 percent in 2014. The students left school mostly due to immigration, transfer to alternative schools and long-term absences, the data showed. (Yonhap)