No significant level of radiation detected among N. Korean defectors: ministry

No significant level of radioactive contamination was detected among 80 North Korean defectors who came from areas near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea, the unification ministry said Thursday. The ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs announced the result following a six-month test on the defectors who had lived in Kilju County and its nearby areas and fled to South Korea after North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006. The North conducted all of its six nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, located in Kilju County in the country's northeastern province. "Of all 80 examinees, there was no examinee that showed a meaningful result. Thus, it is assessed that there was no significant level of radioactive contamination among all examinees at the time of the test," the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences said in a report conducted on behalf of the Korea Hana Foundation, a ministry-affiliated institution that supports defectors. The government carried out similar tests on 40 North Korean defectors in 2017 and 2018. While some showed signs of suspected radiation exposure in medical checkups, test results concluded that it was hard to confirm that the nuclear tests affected them. In total, 796 North Koreans who used to live in areas near Punggye-ri have defected to South Korea since North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006. Source: Yonhap News Agency