Nearly one-fifth of North Korean defectors aspire to move to the United States, despite relentless anti-US propaganda in North Korea. A survey also found 64 per cent of defectors hoped to move to South Korea.
Economist Marcus Noland and associates surveyed more than 1,300 North Koreans in China and 300 others in South Korea in hopes of learning more about their lives in the hardline communist state and their reasons for leaving.
Only one per cent wanted to return to North Korea, with another one per cent aspiring to other destinations. Mr Noland, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the United States attracted younger, better educated North Koreans.
He said the findings showed that foreign media such as US government-backed Radio Free Asia were gradually penetrating North Korea, though most North Koreans decided to flee due to word of mouth as they desperately seek a way out of extreme poverty and malnutrition.
'What is remarkable when you talk about these people is the almost entire lack of knowledge about the outside world on which they made this fundamental decision to leave the country,' Mr Noland said.