Inclusion of North Korean Defectors

Indicator Description

  • A. Definition

    The degree of inclusion of North Korean defectors in the Republic of Korea

  • B. How to measure

    The percentage of respondents who answered the question: “To what extent can defectors be embraced as group members?”
    *The answer has to be chosen from the following:
    1. Unacceptable
    2. As a neighbour
    3. As a working colleague
    4. As an intimate friend
    5. As spouse

  • C. Features and Sources

    Category Sub-Category Sub-Subcategory Type of Indicator Reference Data Sources First year data available Periodicity
    Rights to Equality Discrimination Factors Ethinicity, Skin Color, Country of Origin Subjective/Result Korea Institute of Public Administration A study on Social Integration 2013 1 year
  • D. Interpretation

    The term ‘North Korean defectors’ refers to residents who have left or escaped from North Korea and are now staying in South Korea. They are classified as a ‘representative vulnerable group’. This is because they have difficulties in adapting to the country and being full-fledged members of South Korean society because they do not have a stable economic base and come from an entirely different political and social background. Hence, the degree of inclusion of defectors as members of society can be taken as an indicator of the degree of the inclusion of all those who are vulnerable in our society. Among the five categories mentioned above, the indication is that the highest percent of South Koreans able to embrace North Korean defectors or refugees are those who see them as ‘neighbors’. This points to an existent and tangible social and psychological distance between Koreans from the north and south, respectively. However, some positive changes have taken place as recently as in 2013 and 2015. The percentage of respondents to the survey who felt that defectors or refugees from North Korea should be seen as ‘unacceptable’ or simply as ‘neighbors’ has declined, while the percentage of respondents who felt that they could be accepted as ’work colleagues’ or as ‘close friends’ showed an increase. This indicates that the tolerance of North Korean defectors or refugees by South Koreans has increased with the passage of time. In the future, along with the social support being provided for the vulnerable group of North Korean defectors, it is necessary for both the South Korean state and society to work together so that they can be fully accepted as valuable and equal members of society in terms of their integration.

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