The South Korean Unification Ministry has reported that a hack on the database of the Korea Hana Foundation Hana Center has resulted in sensitive private information on 997 North Korean defectors being compromised.
According to the Unification Ministry, the data breach occurred last month due to a malware-filled email opened up by an employee of the Hana Center. An investigation is ongoing to figure out the culprit of this cyber crime, but fingers are already being pointed at North Korean hackers. This would not be the first time that North Korea carried out a cyberattack on South Korea, and as many have pointed out, North Korea is the only country with any real interest or need for this information.
North Korean ally China has sent multiple North Korean defectors located in China back to North Korea, but it is doubtful that the Chinese would involve themselves so directly on a matter that is of no concern to any nation except North Korea.
The damage done by this data breach remains to be seen, but the ramifications may be significant. North Korea does not take well to defectors, and the state media vilifies each and every one of them intensely. Moreover, the leaking of their identities may put any family the defectors still have in North Korea at risk. North Korea is known to place pressure on the families of defectors in an attempt to get them to return. Many defectors who willingly return to North Korea, or are forced to do so, end up in imprisonment and or outright killed.
The Ministry has stated that they have already informed the defectors of the breach, and are working on precautions in order to ensure their continued safety.
North Korean defectors