North Korean defectors, who mostly go through China to reach South Korea, are treated as illegal economic migrants by the Chinese government. Due to their illegal status, they commonly face exploitation and are often repatriated to North Korea, where they face prosecution. This is frequently termed the ‘North Korean defector issue’ in the South Korean media. This thesis deals with the influence of ideology on the framing of the North Korean defector issue. It analyzes the South Korean media discourse on the North Korean defector issue in the context of the South-South conflict based on a type of critical discourse analysis, which combines a discourse-historical approach with a framing approach. The South Korean discourse on North Korean defectors is part of the larger discourse on how to deal with North Korea, including the North Korean human rights issue. This discourse is characterized by the division between South Korean conservatives and progressives, who have distinct conceptions of the South Korean identity. This thesis argues that the historical development of the 20th century is vital in explaining the ongoing South-South division. While progressives view the North primarily as a kin nation for future unification, conservatives perceive North Korea as an enemy. Progressives tend to emphasize humanitarianism in dealing with issues related to North Korea, whereas conservatives highlight human rights. Moreover, progressives construct North Korean defectors as people who fled for economic and/or political reasons. In contrast, conservatives frame them as refugees and human rights victims. Progressives view the North Korean defector issue as a matter of national sovereignty, diplomacy, human rights, and humanitarianism. Conservatives mainly perceive it as a matter of human rights and international law. Although the dispute between both ideological camps continues, the human rights frame has become dominant within South Korea and the international community. This thesis shows that the ideological affiliation of the Chosun Ilbo and the Hankyoreh has significantly influenced the framing of the North Korean defector issue, which indicates that they have been a key actor in reinforcing the South-South conflict. Moreover, the North Korean defector issue has been politicized by both camps. However, approaches advanced by both ideological camps have not solved the North Korean defector issue. Therefore, a new approach, which can be promoted by both ideological camps, should be explored. The hegemonic human rights frame should be critically approached and challenged.