One-third of defectors are not born in the North

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One-third of defectors are not born in the North

A third of young North Korean defectors in the South weren’t actually born in the North but in China or another country, according to a local report.

The government think tank Korean Educational Development Institute has recently released a report on “the change of views on the adjustment of young North Korean defectors in the South, as an increasing number of defectors’ children are born in China or another country.”

South Korea has 1,681 so-called young North Korean defectors who are attending primary, middle and high schools, according to a statistic from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in April 2011. However, more than a third of them, 608 precisely, were born in China or a third country during their months-long journey to the South.

“So far, young North Korean defectors have been described as refugees who suffered a miserable and terrifying journey across the border and incognito from North Korean authorities while they sojourned in China,” the report said. “So we thought many of them needed therapy when they came into the South. However, those who were born in China or another country and then defected to the South had different experiences. They attended primary schools in China and had good memories of playing with their friends, just like ordinary children.

“Rather, they said they felt hurt after they came to South Korea because many local children didn’t respect them as a minority,” it said. “They said they miss their lives in their actual hometowns. For them, North Korea is nothing but the land of their parents.”



By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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