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Rights Group Says North Korean Defectors Seeking Asylum in South Korea

A South Korean human rights group says a senior North Korean scientist and the head of a military hospital have defected and are seeking asylum in South Korea.

The Citizen's Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees says the two defected separately. The scientist is said to have left North Korea in March. The rights group says the defectors are living in a Southeast Asian country it did not identify, and are applying for asylum to go to South Korea.

Officials in Seoul have not commented publicly on the matter.

Human rights groups believe hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled the country since the end of the Korean War in 1953 to escape poverty and persecution. The majority cross the border into neighboring China.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.