Anthropologist Gene-woong explains, "Korea has been a discriminatory culture dating back hundreds of years to the late Lee Dynasty. Your place in this society is determined by money, status and appearance.''
In the early years, North Korean defectors [arriving in Seoul] were celebrated as heroes; now they're sometimes looked down upon as well-subsidized freeloaders. Despite all the talk of brotherhood and eventual reunification, the North Korean refugees often feel isolated, even years after living here.
Humanitarian and church organizations maintain that depression, alcoholism, unemployment and suicide run higher among these refugees and that this hopelessness is passed to the children as well.
Some defectors say that they struggle against a certain South Korean animosity and snobbishness, which, interpreted correctly or not, can be summed up as follows: kiss my ring; now collect my garbage.
[Excerpt of an article by Michael Paterniti, GQ magazine]