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North Koreans Defect to South Korea


Thirteen North Korean workers who escaped an overseas North Korea restaurant and arrived in Seoul on April 7. South Korea's Unification Ministry announced several defections recently.

Thirteen North Korean workers who escaped an overseas North Korea restaurant and arrived in Seoul on April 7. South Korea's Unification Ministry announced several defections recently.


South Korea says a high-ranking North Korean military officer defected to South Korea last year.

South Korea’s defense and unification ministries made the announcement Monday in Seoul. The unification ministry deals with issues between the rival Koreas. That includes bringing families together from both sides.

The unidentified officer is a colonel in North Korea’s military. He worked in North Korea's General Reconnaissance Bureau and is said to be the highest-ranked officer to defect from the North.

The bureau conducts spying activities against South Korea, including cyber attacks. The agency also is blamed for the 2010 torpedo attack against a South Korean naval ship.

Forty-six sailors were killed in that attack. North Korea denies it carried out the attack.

The announcement Monday comes days after South Korean officials said that 13 North Koreans recently arrived in the South. They say the North Koreans were working at a state-owned restaurant in a foreign country and defected as a group. That would make it the largest group defection since 2011.

In a separate incident, a North Korean diplomat stationed in an African country defected with his family to the South last year.

More than 29,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of hostilities in the Korean War. The numbers have declined since Kim Jong Un took over as leader in 2011.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Richard Green reported this story for VOANews.com. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

defect – v. to leave a country, political party or organization and go to another one

reconnaissance – n. a military activity in which soldiers find out information enemy forces

cyber attack – n. an attack on computer systems meant to steal information or to damage or deny access to computer systems

torpedo – n. a kind of explosive device that can be fired and travel underwater to strike ships

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