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820 N. Koreans obtain citizenship in EU from 2007 to 2016

BRUSSELS -- A total of 820 people from North Korea acquired citizenship of member countries of the European Union in the 2007-2016 period, with nearly 90 percent of them living in Germany and Britain, the EU's statistics office has shown in a report.

Most of them are believed to have defected to and settled in Europe after escaping from North Korea, given that the acquisition of a European citizenship is made through naturalization, marriage or asylum.

The number of people, who came from North Korea and obtained citizenship in the European countries, including the 28 member countries of the EU, totaled 66 in 2016, down from the 128 recorded in the previous year, according to the Eurostat data released Monday.


Out of the 66 people, Britain granted citizenship to 43, followed by Germany with 13, France, the Netherlands and Estonia with two each, and Austria with one.

During the reported 10-year period, the number of new European citizens hailing from North Korea decreased to 58 in 2008 and 53 in 2009 from 71 in 2007 before increasing to 97 in 2010. In 2010, it shrunk to 77 before jumping to 123 in 2012 and dropping to 90 in 2013 and 57 in 2014. But it rose to a record high of 128 in 2015 before decreasing to 66 in 2016.

In the 10-year period, Germany topped the list of European countries granting citizenships to North Koreans with 396, trailed by Britain with 317. Eighty-seven percent of the total new European citizens from North Korea became citizens of those two countries.

Meanwhile, the number of South Koreans who obtained citizenships of European countries amounted to 970 in 2016, up from 820 in the previous year. (Yonhap)


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