Seoul: North Korean Defectors to South Tripled in 2023

    Seoul: North Korean Defectors to South Tripled in 2023
    Photo: Pool/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The Ministry of Unification in Seoul has revealed that at least 196 North Koreans defected to South Korea in 2023, nearly three times the previous year.

    • The sharp uptick from just 67 defectors in 2022 is partly attributed to the loosening of COVID border restrictions in North Korea and transit countries, such as China.

    The Spin

    Anti-North Korea Narrative

    As the economic situation worsens and internal controls strengthen in Kim Jong Un's regime, younger North Koreans are left with no choice but to take a perilous journey to the liberal democratic South to escape their repressive homeland's dire human rights and impoverished conditions.

    Pro-North Korea narrative

    Just like the US, North Korea has the right to live without external limitations or interventions. However, due to the prevalence of disinformation about Kim's regime, misconceptions about North Korea are perpetuated in the public consciousness to further Western interests. People defecting to South Korea are economic migrants, nothing more.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 25% chance that there will be a major famine in North Korea before 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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