South Korea

Hackers leak hundreds of North Korean defectors’ personal details stolen from a resettlement centre in the South

  • This is the first time that such a large amount of confidential data has been stolen, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 9:11pm

Hackers have leaked the personal details of nearly 1,000 North Koreans living in the South, officials said on Friday, potentially putting the defectors’ lives at risk.

The hack was made at a centre tasked with helping defectors settle in South Korea and get accustomed to its capitalist society.

This is the first time that personal details including names and addresses have been stolen on such a large scale, the Unification Ministry said.

The classified data was leaked after a computer became infected with malicious code when an unsuspecting staff member at the Hana Centre in North Gyeongsang province opened a suspicious email.

There are 25 such centres across the country which provide support for the roughly 30,000 North Korean defectors who live in the country.

After confirming the hack last week, authorities conducted an emergency inspection of all computers at Hana Centres but no other leaks were found.

“We apologise to defectors from the North. We will make utmost efforts to protect their personal information and prevent any recurrence of such an incident”, the ministry said in a statement.

North Korea’s state media have threatened to silence defectors who actively engage in anti-Pyongyang activities such as launching leaflets to the North by balloons.

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. His assassination by two attackers, who were never caught, followed the publication of his tell-all book about the private life of the Kims.

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