Saturday, April 21, 2007

North Korean defectors face alienation in S. Korea

More than 10,000 North Koreans have fled [to South Korea] since the end of the Korean War in search of food and freedom, but they now face other challenges: unemployment, crime and discrimination.

In 2006 alone, 1,578 defectors came to the South. Some 300,000 are still believed to be hiding in China.

But those lucky enough to have made it to the wealthy South find themselves confronting yet another economic challenge -- unemployment. A recent report by Seoul National University showed that nearly seven out of every 10 defectors in South Korea were unemployed. Even a defector with a job is likely to earn less than half of what an ordinary South Korean makes.

"Coming from a socialist country, defectors often have trouble adapting to capitalistic working environments," Professor Park Sang-in, who conducted the survey, said. "They should be given more realistic job training."

A recent study showed that many end up losing their money to fraud and other crimes. 23.4 percent had been victims of crimes like fraud, theft and robbery, five times higher than what is normally found among South Koreans.

[Yonhap News]

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