3 Jan 2013

North Korean refugee numbers down

5:26 am on 3 January 2013

The number of refugees from North Korea to South Korea fell dramatically, compared with last year.

Just over 1500 northerners arrived in 2012, down from more than 2700 the previous year.

South Korean political activists say the North is taking much stronger measures to prevent people from trying to flee.

The two countries are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict. The conflict ended in a ceasefire and not a peace treaty.

The Yonhap news agency said the figure for 2012 is the first time that numbers have fallen below 2,000 since 2006.

About 24,613 North Koreans who have arrived in South Korea since 1998, according to the government figures.