Fewer escaped N. Korea in 2012 as Kim Jong-Un hardened borders, tightened internal security

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Lee Jong-Heon, East-Asia-Intel.com

Fleeing North Korea has been increasingly difficult due to tightened border controls and stronger internal security measures since the country’s new ruler Kim Jong-Un assumed power a year ago, South Korean officials and sources say.

A section of a four-meter-high steel fence on China’s border with North Korea. /AFP/Getty Images

But defectors in Seoul say that desperate North Koreans will keep trying to cross the border by bribing border guards who may be willing to look the other way.

The number of North Koreans who defected to South Korea dropped by 44 percent last year to 1,508, compared to 2,706 in 2011, according to the Unification Ministry.

It was the first time that the number of refugees reaching the South fell below the 2,000-level since 2006.

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