North Korean flag (Reuters-Yonhap)
Fifty-seven newly arrived North Korean defectors were admitted to the government-run resettlement education center in the first half of the year, an 85 percent drop from a year earlier amid the North's anti-coronavirus border closure, an official said Wednesday.
During the same period last year, 380 North Korean defectors entered the Hanawon resettlement center.
"The number of people entering Hanawon fell sharply as countries took antivirus measures, including blocking arrivals and restricting movement, due to COVID-19. ... This trend is likely to continue for a considerable period of time," the official at Hanawon said.
The number of North Korean defectors coming into South Korea totaled 33 in the first half of the year, according to the official.
Only two defectors appear to have entered the South in the second quarter, given that the number of incoming North Korean defectors was 31 in the first quarter of this year.
The figure is likely to be the lowest number of incoming defectors by quarter, though the unification ministry said it cannot officially confirm the number of defectors entering the South for the second quarter.
Usually, North Korean defectors receive three months of resettlement education at Hanawon after going through a period of questioning by the National Intelligence Service (NIS). (Yonhap)