Fleeing Hardship, 25 Defect From N. Korea

From Times Wire Reports

Twenty-five North Koreans, mostly workers and students, defected to South Korea after fleeing their poverty-stricken communist homeland, South Korean officials said.

The National Intelligence Service said the North Koreans came to Seoul through an unspecified third country. Fifteen of the 25 North Koreans will be united with relatives already in Seoul after fleeing the North, the agency said.

About 240 North Koreans have defected to the South this year. A total of 312 North Koreans sought asylum in South Korea in 2000, an increase from 148 in 1999 and 71 in 1998.

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