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Personal data of almost 1000 North Korean defectors leaked by hackers

Personal data of almost 1000 North Korean defectors leaked by hackers

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

The defectors' names, birthdates and addresses were stolen from a personal computer found with malicious code at the Hana Center in North Gyeongsang province, the ministry said.

"The North Korean authorities may try to use this information as leverage to put pressure or punish [them]". "The file was confirmed to have been leaked", it added.

The classified data was leaked through a personal computer.

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

Ministry officials said the breach occurred last month when an employee of the government agency Hanna Foundation opened an email with malware, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Seoul has denied the allegation, saying its warship used an optical camera while rescuing a North Korean fishing boat in distress.

Sokeel Park, South Korea Country Director for Liberty in North Korea, an worldwide NGO that assists North Korean defectors, says this hack will make other defectors feel less safe living in South Korea. The plan is expected to be completed next year.

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One expert on North Korean cyber-warfare, Simon Choi, believes that this might not be the first time a Hana centre has been hacked.

"I saw US news reports saying the pope's travel plan for next year doesn't include a trip to North Korea".

Ministry officials say they will monitor the investigation.

In many cases, the BBC noted, the North Korean government may assume that defectors are simply missing or dead.

Meanwhile, as the relation between the two halves of the Korean peninsula improved, an increasing number of North Korean defectors came out of anonymity and made their presence known on social media.

The source said the USA proposed the two allies renew the treaty each year instead of five years as they have done so far, a proposal which Seoul is known to have rejected.

"Now there are so many defector-YouTubers that I have to find something new and interesting. It's threatening to hear that our personal information is unsafe", one defector told ABC News.

"We apologize to defectors from the North". "Even though hard issues remain between Japan and South Korea", he said, "I hope to overcome those problems and push forward our mutual understanding and exchange between our two militaries".


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