CNN was not able to independently verify claims made in the report.
There are no official statistics showing exactly how many North Koreans have fled their country, which is home to about 25 million people.
If caught by the Chinese authorities, they face repatriation to North Korea where defectors are often tortured.
"It is much easier for them to flee, because they are not usually enrolled in formal employment at a factory or a state firm where any absence would be immediately reported," said Yeo Sang Yoon, from the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, an NGO in Seoul.
"They are in charge of the household and can thus slip away unnoticed.""We had enough food," she said.
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"We even had rice and wheat stored in the garage." But Lee felt her parents were too strict.