According to Yonhap:
The portion of female North Korean defectors topped 80 percent this year, government data showed Sunday, apparently because North Korean women are under less severe scrutiny by the communist country.
The number of female North Koreans who came to the South reached 444 in the January-May period, accounting for 83 percent of the 535 North Koreans who came to the South, according to the unification ministry.
The data was compiled tentatively as the government’s background checks for North Korean defectors have not been completed, it said. Around 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea in search of freedom so far.
Since the portion of female North Korean defectors topped the 50 percent mark for the first time in 2002, the weight has been on the rise, the data showed.
In particular, since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took office in late 2011, the portion has increased above the 70 percent mark. The corresponding data reached 75.6 percent in 2013 and came in at 78.2 percent in 2014.
Experts said that it might be easier for women to flee the communist country as they are relatively less scrutinized by North Korean authorities.
Meanwhile, the number of North Koreans who defect to the South has been on the decline since 2011, the data showed.
In 2014, the number of defectors reached 1,396, down 48.4 percent from 2011, it said.
“Regardless of sex, the number of North Korean defectors has been falling,” a unification ministry official said. “The trend is likely to continue this year as well.”
While the number of North Koreans coming south has been on the decline since Kim Jong-un came to power, there has been a flurry of media reports recently that indicate that the number of high-level defectors leaving the country is on the increase.
According to the Chosun Ilbo (2015-7-2):
About a dozen senior North Korean officials have defected in recent years because they feared for their lives in leader Kim Jong-un’s purges, a source said Wednesday.
The defectors were working in China and Southeast Asia, some charged with earning hard currency for the regime.
Several have already arrived in South Korea while others are staying in a third country.
Early this year, a mid-ranking official who had been dispatched to Hong Kong from Room 39, a Workers Party office that handles Kim’s slush funds, sought asylum in South Korea with his family.
He reportedly told investigators here he was terrified of Kim’s draconian purges, which saw senior officials executed by anti-aircraft gun, and that officials left in North Korea find it almost impossible to flee because of tight controls but those working overseas can find some opportunities to defect.
Last year, a senior official of Taesong Bank, who had handled Kim’s slush funds in Siberia, fled to South Korea with millions of dollars. Even a senior official of the State Security Department fled the North and arrived here. According to the National Security Service here, the defection particularly upset Kim.
An army general has been staying in a third country since he fled the North recently, according to sources. The general was reportedly involved in the two inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007.
The defections highlight the climate of fear among senior apparatchiks since the brutal execution of Kim’s uncle and one-time eminence grise Jang Song-taek, as well as that of former armed forces minister Hyon Yong-chol.
In a report to the National Assembly, the NIS claimed that the North executed more than 70 senior party, government and military officials by firing squad since Kim took power.
And According to Yonhap (2015-7-6):
North Korea may continue to see its officials desert the communist country to settle abroad down the road, but the exodus is not likely to lead to the collapse of the regime, experts said Monday.
North Korea is believed to be coping with an increased number of defections by government officials as of late with frequent fears of purging and punishment haunting North Korean officials under leader Kim Jong-un.
About 10 North Korean military and party officials have reportedly fled the communist country recently in their pursuit of asylum in South Korea or in a third country.
Those defectors reportedly included a mid-ranking North Korean party official who sought asylum in the South with his family early this year while he was managing slush funds in Hong Kong for leader Kim.
Another high-ranking military official also reportedly has been staying in a country outside of South and North Korea since fleeing the communist country.
The recent outflow may continue in the future as more officials terrified of Kim’s “reign of terror” are likely to renounce their allegiance to the communist country, experts noted.
“For the time being, North Korean officials are likely to continue to flee the communist country or seek asylum, which would weaken the regime of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un,” said Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.
Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, also noted, “Desertion by these people may take place intermittently in the process of solidifying the Kim Jong-un regime and securing the regime’s stability.”
Since taking power in late 2011 after his father Kim Jong-il’s sudden death, the junior Kim has resorted to unusually brutal means to solidify his power base.
In late 2013, Jang Song-thaek, the husband of Kim’s aunt and once the country’s second most powerful official, was executed on charges of treason, along with many other officials with close ties with Jang.
Former defense chief Hyon Yong-chol was also purged in late April apparently due to his disloyalty to Kim.
Still, experts stressed that the terror-driven exodus may not immediately lead to a collapse of the Kim regime although it is likely to resort to military provocations outside the country in order to quell potential political instability inside.
“If Kim’s reign of terror prolongs, his governing style could bring about an instability in the communist country,” said Jung Sang-don, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA). “Then, there is a possibility that North Korea could make provocations in a bid to tide over its internal problems.”
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, also dismissed the view that a series of defections by officials meant instability in Kim’s regime, saying that there have been no signs of abnormal activities among the North Korean military power or other citizens.
Here is coverage in the Korea Times.
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Portion of female N. Korean defectors tops 80 pct this year: data