Saturday, May 05, 2007

Psychological troubles of North Korean Teenage Defectors

Kim Hye Young, a graduate of Ehwa Women's University's Nursing School, wrote her master's thesis on the depression symptoms affecting teenage North Korean defectors. She said the difficulties faced by the youngsters could seem overwhelming, and lead to depression and other psychological problems.

"In order to be successful in South Korea, one needs to have a good grip on mathematics. But while in North Korea, these teenagers neglected their studies, as having food on the table was more important than anything else back then," Kim Hye Young said.

According to Chun Jeong Soon, a North Korean defector who resumed her job as a math teacher in the South, North Korean youths need about three years to adapt to life in South Korea, and after that they become very similar to their peers.

"North Korean girls go through a quicker adaptation to life in South Korea. It is easier for boys to fall into the many temptations of life in the South, such as underage drinking or enjoying all forms of entertainment available here," Chun said.

"Many of the North Korean kids lag behind in their studies and speak with a North Korean accent and are consequently ostracized and outcast by their South Korean classmates," she said.

"Most of them are still suffering from the long-term effects of past psychological trauma... The luckier ones were just beaten or abused by their families in the North... The unlucky ones watched their parents or relatives die from starvation or get arrested and dragged away by the authorities," Chun added."Some of the girls have been victims of human-traffickers... It is simply unrealistic to expect these children to easily and naturally adapt to a normal school life in South Korea."

[Radio Free Asia]

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