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NK Defectors Complain of `Cold Lifestyle` in S. Korea

Posted October. 01, 2010 12:13,   


More than half of North Korean defectors living in South Korea say they earn under 500,000 won (440 U.S. dollars) per month and suffer hiring discrimination, the results of a survey released Thursday said.

A combined 222 defectors nationwide were surveyed Sept. 15-30 and the study’s results were given to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Young-woo.

Of the respondents, 76 percent were women in their 20s to 40s. The gender and age ratios were similar to those of the estimated 20,000 defectors in the country, including those expected to enter South Korea by year’s end.

The study said 118 (56 percent) of 211 respondents said they earn under 500,000 won a month, or less than the minimum cost of living (504,344 won) per capita set by the Health and Welfare Ministry. Those who earned more than 500,000 won but under one million won (880 dollars) accounted for 21 percent (44), between one million and 1.5 million won (1,320 dollars) 16 percent (34), and between 1.5 million and two million won (1,760 dollars) five percent (10).

On discrimination in hiring, 93 of 216 respondents (43 percent) said they felt “slight” discrimination and 41 (20 percent) “strong” discrimination. Among 213 respondents, 115 (54 percent) said they earn less than a South Korean for the same work, and 58 (27 percent) out of 206 respondents said they felt ostracized due to their identity.

On their living conditions, 105 (48 percent) of 219 respondents said they are “poor” and 39 (18 percent) “very poor,” while 64 (29 percent) said they lead “moderate” lives, five (two percent) “affluent,” and six (three percent) “very affluent.”

A 40-something North Korean female defector urged South Koreans to show consideration for defectors on the questionnaire.

“We are a family of five. My husband is in bed due to hip surgery. Those unable to work due to illness have a very hard time making a living. I do my best to earn a good living but realize that this is impossible for those who have no power. We are heartened by your words of encouragement. We’d be very happy and grateful if you understand our difficulties and take care of us,” she said.