Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life outside North Korea "paradise"

By the time North Korean defectors leave this rural retreat in South Korea, they should have a more winning smile.

"Most of them have bad teeth," says Choong-won Lee, showing visitors around a large and well-equipped dental surgery in the modern, comfortable center he heads that is briefly home to the growing number who flee impoverished North Korea.

Poor dentistry is just one of a host of problems defectors arrive with at this government-run center which feeds them up and prepares them for the next huge challenge -- life in South Korea.

"They have gone through a dramatic process of defection and they are exhausted, both physically and mentally" Lee told Reuters.

"Their health is not usually good. Their minds are not stable because of the stress (of escaping) and they lack nutrition."

[Excerpt of an article by Jonathan Thatcher , Reuters]

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