The Korea Herald


7 of 10 defectors satisfied with life in S. Korea: poll

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 13, 2012 - 17:24

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Nearly seven out of 10 North Koreans are satisfied with their lives in South Korea, a government survey showed Friday, following Seoul’s efforts to better accommodate the growing number of North Korean refugees.

The survey found 69.3 percent of 7,560 adult North Korean defectors in South Korea are either “very” satisfied or “somewhat” satisfied. An additional 25.7 percent rated their satisfaction as “average” and 4.8 percent say they are either dissatisfied or “very” dissatisfied.

Those who are satisfied with their lives said that is mainly because they get paid for their work here and can do what they want to do, according to the survey.

Many North Korean defectors in the South report that there is no freedom in their communist homeland and they have suffered years of economic difficulties.

The poll found 50.7 percent fled their communist homeland due to food shortages and economic difficulties, while 31.2 percent said they came to South Korea in search of freedom and 26.2 percent because they didn’t like the North Korean political system.

More than 23,000 North Korean defectors have settled in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and a stream of North Koreans continue to defect to the South.

South Korea broke ground last year to build another resettlement center to help North Korean defectors better adjust to life in the South.

The extensive survey, the first of its kind, was conducted by the North Korean Refugees Foundation between July and August last year.

The foundation is affiliated with South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

The poll found that 12.1 percent of those capable of working said they were unemployed in 2011, a figure far higher than the average South Korean jobless rate of about 3.4 percent.

The poll also showed that 33.2 percent of the respondents earn less than 1 million won ($870) per month and 41.3 percent said their monthly income ranged between 1.01 million and 1.51 million won.

The average monthly household income of South Koreans is 3.89 million won, according to the Korean Statistical Information Service, a website run by the South Korean government.

The data underscored the fact North Koreans struggle to find decent jobs in the highly competitive South Korean society, despite receiving three months of mandatory resettlement training.

The survey also showed 24.8 percent of defectors married after arriving in the South. Among them, 35.6 percent have Chinese spouses, 34 percent married North Koreans and 27.2 wed South Koreans. 

(Yonhap News)