Sunday, April 15, 2007

North Korean Teenage Defectors Face Huge Challenges

Teenage North Korean defectors may have escaped starvation and repression, but they have a hard time playing catch-up with their South Korean peers once they resettle, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

"If they're well-fed now, it doesn't mean that the physical and mental effects of years of deprivation and starvation in North Korea have disappeared," said Ma Seok Hoon, executive director of the Bridges Society, a non-governmental group that looks after North Korean teenagers in the South.

"The side effects of starvation are long-lasting, and many of these kids are still experiencing serious gastrointestinal problems. Some of the girls suffer from gynecological disorders, and many of the youngsters experience an inferiority complex because of their slight physique," Ma told RFA's Korean service.

Educational difficulties are also rife among teen defectors, who face language difficulties, gaps in studies caused by major disruptions in daily life, and discrimination.

[Radio Free Asia]

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