Friday, November 27, 2009

Life for North Koreans outside North Korea

They've escaped the most repressive regime in the world, but for many North Korean refugees, life outside their closed, totalitarian country is still not easy.

Thousands of refugees have made the perilous journey from North Korea, via a tortuous route that takes in China, Laos and Thailand, some making it to South Korea.

Joanna Hosaniak, from the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights said the refugees often arrive with warped expectations, increasingly based on watching smuggled copies of South Korean soap operas.

"North Koreans, when they watch those DVDs they assume that 'wow south Koreans are living in such a nice country, they have such a beautiful apartments they drive a Mercedes Benz, and so on'," she said. "So ... ­ they come here and they think this is just like that,­ and it isn't."

The reality is low-paid jobs, discrimination and often alienation.

At a factory near Seoul, 80 percent of the workforce are North Koreans, making cardboard boxes. They work long hours, in freezing winter temperatures, for low pay. ­And these are the lucky ones. Many simply can't find jobs at all, lacking even the most basic skills. Many are shunned because of their North Korean accents and perceived backwards attitudes.


No comments: