Nearly eight out of 10 North Korean escapees believe that defections by the North's officials from its overseas missions will likely hasten the collapse of the regime, a survey showed Monday.
Among 314 respondents, 78.5 percent said that defections by North Korean diplomats and other officials working abroad are expected to deal a blow to North Korea, according to the poll on 400 defectors by North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity.
Asked how to induce more high-level defections, 40.5 percent of those surveyed cited the need to ensure a stable life for them and their children, followed by rewards for classified information picked by 27.3 percent.
Fifteen percent cited impunity for crimes committed in North Korea, while 8 percent chose the government's promise of high-ranking job posts after unification, it added.
The South Korean government said that the largest-ever number of North Korean elites have come to South Korea so far this year, although it did not provide details.
Thae Yong-ho, a former minister at the North's embassy in London, defected to South Korea with his family in late July, becoming one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials escaping to the South.
Meanwhile, the poll showed 57 percent saw a shuttered joint industrial park as a source of hard currency for the North Korea regime, while 18.5 percent consider it a means to boost the economy for a united Korea in the future.
Seoul shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North Korean border city of the same name in February in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations earlier this year.
The poll said that 53 percent blamed North Korea for strained inter-Korean ties, followed by the United States with 22 percent, China with 16 percent and South Korea with 6 percent.
It added that 62 percent of the surveyed forecast that relations between South and North Korea will likely remain frayed. (Yonhap)