"Some of them were street children and school dropouts in North Korea, and that is why they are always at the bottom of their class in South Korea," says Ma Seok Hoon, executive director of the Bridges Society, a non-governmental group that looks after North Korean teenagers in the South.
Many have lost motivation after sacrificing years of education, which means they frequently have to study alongside much younger children.
"To us, North Korea, the country itself and its people seem pure and unadulterated. In South Korea, we are always stressed out because of our schoolwork, and also because everyone around us is aware that we're from the North," 18-year-old junior high school student Kim Ok Yi said.
"That is why we sometimes feel disheartened and cannot help but think of the old times in the North. Over there, our classmates never shunned us, and we were never under so much stress. Getting around and having food on the table were always a problem in North Korea, but leaving that aside, there was never such intense competition as we encounter in the South," said Kim, one of the 10,000 North Korean defectors now resettled in the South.
[Radio Free Asia]