Two North Koreans on Sunday crossed the western inter-Korean sea border by boat to defect South Korea, officials said.
The pair, a man and a woman, were found sailing in a small boat to South Korean waters near Socheong Island early Sunday before expressing their wish to defect, the National Intelligence Service said.
The spy agency said the North Korean pair, from the same fishing village, were subject to further questioning, refusing to elaborate further.
North Koreans have suffered from chronic food shortages, with fears of a famine reportedly deepening this year due to rising grain prices and poor harvets.
More than 12,000 North Koreans, mostly civilians, have defected to the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the unification ministry in Seoul.
Human rights groups say hundreds of thousands more may be hiding out in China, with many awaiting an opportunity to travel to Seoul. Beijing forcibly repatriates those whom it catches as economic migrants.