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21 N. Koreans cross sea border into South: officials

A group of 21 North Koreans was found drifting aboard a boat off South Korea's west coast earlier this week, officials said Saturday, the latest in a string of defections by North Koreans.

   The boat carrying the North Korean family members, including
children, was spotted by sailors on a South Korean Navy vessel in
the Yellow Sea on Tuesday, the officials said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.

   The North Koreans expressed their wish to defect to officers
from the Korea Coast Guard, and were led to a nearby dock in
Incheon, west of Seoul, for questioning by South Korean officials.

   Chronic food shortages and harsh political oppression in the
North have forced more than 21,000 North Koreans to flee their
communist country since the 1950-53 Korean War. Most North Koreans
cross the country's land border with China to defect to South
Korea, with some choosing to cross the tense sea border by boat. 

(Yonhap News)

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