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North Korean defector arrivals in South plummets amid COVID-19 lockdowns

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SEOUL: The variety of North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea hit an all time low in latest months, as border restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic made motion harder, the South’s Unification Ministry mentioned on Wednesday (Jul 1).

Twelve defectors have been recorded as arriving in South Korea from April to June this yr, in comparison with 320 in the identical quarter a yr earlier than, in response to the Unification Ministry, which handles affairs with the North.

The quantity is the bottom since 2003, when the ministry started recording defector arrivals by the quarter, Yonhap information company mentioned.

Ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key mentioned the sharp fall in defector arrivals was primarily as a result of nations bordering North Korea have closed their borders as a result of coronavirus considerations.

“A extra skilled evaluation is required, however for now the decline within the variety of incoming defectors seems to be affected by the shutdown of borders in neighbouring nations after the coronavirus outbreak emerged, which made it troublesome for individuals to journey,” he informed a daily briefing.

READ: Defectors from North Korea run in South’s elections to battle flawed policies

READ: Defectors prepare packages to send to North Korea despite growing tensions

Relations between South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration and plenty of within the defector group have been strained lately.

After North Korea complained about defector-led teams that ship propaganda leaflets and support into the North, Moon’s authorities mentioned it will take authorized motion in opposition to two teams.

This week police questioned the defector leaders of the 2 teams, after having raided their workplaces final week.

The South Korean authorities additionally says it’s planning to considerably minimize funding for defector resettlement programmes, however Yoh mentioned that was solely due to the anticipated drop in arrivals.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed circumstances of the brand new coronavirus, nevertheless it imposed a strict border closure and quarantine programme.

American and Japanese authorities officers have forged doubt on these claims, however one diplomatic supply mentioned that regardless of the fact is, Pyongyang seems more and more assured that it has the scenario below management.

Border site visitors in items seems to have elevated and a few once-scarce imported meals have reappeared in Pyongyang supermarkets, the supply mentioned.

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