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N. Korean refugees’ jobless rate hits 9.2%

Nearly one out of 10 economically active North Koreans who defected to the South in the past 10 years are unemployed, according to a survey, indicating their difficulties in finding jobs.

A state-funded foundation that supports North Korean refugees’ resettlement here conducted a poll of 1,200 defectors from the North aged between 20 and 60 who have come to the South since 2000.

Only 511 of them, or 42.6 percent, were economically active, meaning they were employed or actively seeking employment in August, the foundation said in a report disclosed at a seminar Thursday.

Forty-seven of them were jobless, resulting in an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

In the same month, 61.1 percent of the general South Korean population was economically active and their unemployment rate was 3.3 percent, suggesting it was harder for North Korean defectors to get jobs.

Refugees from the North who were not in or looking for work attributed their economic inactivity to poor physical conditions (37.1 percent), child care (24.3 percent) and schooling (11.4 percent).

The average monthly income of those who worked for 36 hours a week or more was 1.43 million won.

A majority of employed North Korean defectors were engaged in manual labor, service and sales at factories, hotels and restaurants, the survey showed.

A hundred and thirty out of the 1,200 polled, or 10.8 percent, said they had been victims of crime here. Fraud accounted for nearly 62 percent of the crimes they suffered, followed by assaults at 25.4 percent.

More than 20,000 North Koreans, some 68 percent of whom are women, have defected to the South so far.

The number of North Korean refugees who arrived in the South surpassed 1,000 in 1999, increased tenfold by 2007, and has doubled in the last three years.

More than half of the North Korean defectors receive minimum cost of living payments from the government, which only about 3.2 percent of the nation’s population are provided with.

By Kim So-hyun (
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Korea Herald daum