South Korea and its northern neighbour are technically in a state of war, thus South Koreans have to obtain special permission to travel to the North.
A rare case of a South Korean citizen seeking to settle in the North occurred after a man in his seventies fled to North Korea, BBC reported Monday.
The defector has been identified as 73-year-old Choe In-guk, son of a former South Korean foreign minister, who defected to the North with his wife in the 1980s.
Mr Choe’s arrival in Pyongyang was reported by the North’s state media, while South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed that Mr Choe did not request permission for his trip.
There’s not much information about the life of Mr Choe, but according to South Korean media, the defector didn’t have an easy life because he has been treated like the “son of traitor” and used to live on the money his mother sent to him from the North until she died in 2016.
Defections of such kind are very rare. Usually cases involve North Korean citizens fleeing to the South. According to data provided by Seoul, more than 30,000 North Koreans have illegally crossed the border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The number of defectors, however, has dropped in recent years with 1,127 defections in 2017 compared to 2,706 in 2011.