Just 67 North Korean defectors arrived last year. Inter-Korean dialogue and exchange have ground to a halt. Seoul's Unification Ministry has a new, hawkish head who wants to change the agency's role.
Travis King crossed the border into North Korea on Tuesday, becoming the first U.S. service member to do so since 1982. A handful of American soldiers defected in the years after the Korean War.
China usually sends defectors back to North Korea, but Pyongyang wouldn't let them in during the pandemic. That may soon change, and has led to concern among human rights advocates.