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North Korean defectors' data stolen from resettlement agency in South Korea

North Korean defectors' data stolen from resettlement agency in South Korea

"The personal information that had been leaked (which includes name and birth date) will be explained individually over phone or mail".

The data was taken from a database belonging to South Korea's resettlement agency via a computer infected with malicious software at the Hana center in the southern city of Gumi, Reuters reported. There is a chance that the hack may impact the families of defectors, since the identity of every defector is not known in North Korea.

The leak raises a safety concern not only for the defectors themselves.

The ministry says staff are required to use computers that are not connected to the internet and encode the material when handling defectors' personal information.

The Hana centre is among 25 institutes the ministry runs around the country to help some 32,000 defectors adjust to life in the richer, democratic South by providing jobs, medical and legal support.

There are now 32,381 defectors living in South Korea, with 1042 having arrived in the country in 2018 - continuing a downward trend seen in recent years. "The file was confirmed to have been leaked", it added.

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The news represents the first large-scale leak of defectors' personal information, the unification ministry said on Friday, and those involved have reportedly been informed that their personal information has been made public. An official at the Hana resettlement center said that one of its computers had been breached around November and it had been notifying those affected.

Its state media often denounces them as "human scum" and accuses South Korean spies of kidnapping some of them.

Yi Han-yong, a nephew of Song Hye Rim - the first wife of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il - was shot to death outside his house in Bundang, south of Seoul, in 1997.

The director of the penetrated Hana Center said there are now no reports of the stolen information being used to harass defectors.

The Unification Ministry, which is in charge of all the Hana centers, conducted an emergency probe of the handling of personal information at every center in South Korea.


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