“For North Korean defectors, living in South Korea is emotionally and physically demanding,” Professor Choi Myung-Ae of Seoul National University’s College of Nursing told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
More than 80 percent of respondents said they had contracted at least one disease after leaving North Korea, with an average of two to three different diseases affecting each participant. Vitamin deficiency and muscular-skeletal disease from malnutrition were frequently reported, while gastritis, arthritis, and depression were also common.
“The health status of defectors who left their families in the North is five times worse than that of defectors who escaped North Korea with relatives or friends,” said Park Jeong Ran, an expert on defectors at the Institute for Unification Studies at Seoul National University.
“The research indicates that 20 percent of the ailments affecting North Korean defectors are mental in nature,” she said.
Medical staff at the Hanawon reception center for defectors have indicated that around 70 percent of North Koreans in their care exhibited symptoms of depression or other stress-related syndromes.
[Radio Free Asia]