UPDATE 1 (2014-1-13): Yonhap reports on the 2013 defection numbers:
The [Ministry of Unification], which handles inter-Korean affairs, said a total of 1,516 North Koreans settled in South Korea in 2013, up slightly from 2012 when 1,502 North Koreans arrived in the South, with women accounting for 76 percent of the total.
The ministry said South Korea is now home to 26,124 North Koreans.
And according to the Daily NK:
A total of 1516 North Koreans sought refuge in South Korea last year, bringing the total number of defectors living in the South to 26,124, 69% of whom are female.
ORIGINAL POST (2014-1-2): The Hankyoreh offers some decent data on DPRK defectors entering South Korea in 2013:
An estimated 1,500 North Korean refugees entered South Korea in 2013.
The estimate, which is roughly equivalent to the 2012 total, shows that the number has dwindled to less than 2,000 annually for the two years since Kim Jong-un took power in Pyongyang.
According to a Dec. 25 announcement by the Ministry of Unification, a total of 1,420 refugees had received protection authorization following government questioning as of November 2013. When the individuals currently undergoing questioning are factored in, the total number of refugees entering the country for the year is expected to be around 1,500 – roughly equivalent to the 1,502 refugees who came to South Korea in 2012.
The number would bring the total refugees arriving since the 1990s up to 26,100. The annual tally of refugees passed 2,000 for the first time in 2006. For five years, it remained in the 2,000 to 3,000 range, with 2,548 in 2007, 2,805 in 2008, 2,929 in 2009, 2,402 in 2010, and 2,706 in 2011.
But in 2012, the year the Kim Jong-un regime took over, the total fell to 1,500 a year, a drop of approximately 500 to 1,500.
Analysts said the decrease under the Kim regime was likely tied to stronger border defense aimed at securing the regime, along with more aggressive anti-defection policies, including actions to repatriate those who crossed the border.
Indeed, North Korea is known to have markedly stepped up its border defense since just after the 2011 death of Kim’s father and predecessor Kim Jong-il.
Another possible reason given for the drop was an improvement in food and economic conditions in North Korea in 2012 and 2013.
Meanwhile, North Korea continues to adopt a proactive policy of readmitting refugees who left for South Korea. In 2013 alone, thirteen defected opted to leave the South to return to the North.
While I am perfectly willing to admit that some DPRK defectors living in the ROK might have returned home, I believe it is not accurate to assert “thirteen defected opted to leave the South to return to the North” without mentioning that the DPRK has the ability to threaten family members who remained in the North to draw defectors back to the land of their birth.
Read the full story here:
Total number has dipped since Kim Jong-un took power due to tighter border control and N. Korea welcoming some refugees back