SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- The number of North Korean defectors coming into South Korea recorded an all-time low in the second quarter this year due to the new coronavirus, the unification ministry said Wednesday.
According to the ministry, 12 defectors were estimated to have entered the country from April to June this year, marking the lowest figure since 2003 when the ministry began to tally the number of incoming defectors by quarter.
The figure represents a 96 percent drop from the same period last year when 320 North Korean defectors entered the South.
"The biggest reason behind the decline is that the national borders of these countries were closed after the outbreak of the coronavirus and cross-border movement became difficult," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.
The number of incoming defectors in the first quarter was 135, a 41 percent drop on-year.
The annual figure for defectors coming to South Korea stood at around 2,400 in 2010, but the figure has gradually dropped over the years to 1,047 in 2019.