For Kim Ji-young, arriving in southern Korea at the period of 31 ~ an arduous escape native the phibìc "was favor a dream".


But her delight at arriving in the flourishing South in march 2013 alongside her mother and three cousins quickly gave means to a challenging adjustment period.

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Every work brought new challenges and also the household knew no-one. "There to be many cultural differences... We had actually to start almost everywhere again," she says.


Ms Kim is one of thousands of defectors who have regulated to escape life in the secluded dictatorship. But for those who've fled, their resettlement in the southern is just the beginning.


Many need to learn the basics of life in a high-tech, democratic society - from making use of a financial institution card to understanding just how representative government works.


Initially, defectors go through a period of investigation and a debrief v the intelligence service.


"Then there's three months in ~ an institution dubbed Hanawon, a resettlement education and learning facility operation by the South oriental government," claims Sokeel Park, south Korea country director of Liberty in north Korea.


"It's a three-month institution where they discover various things about South korean society: just how to usage an ATM machine and southern Korea's contemporary transport infrastructure and also how to acquire a job. They discover various things around South korean citizenship, democracy and differences."


There are additionally community centres that provide resources because that resettled refugees. They often tend to focus on this period, help defectors get set up through mobile phones and a bank account and getting acquainted with their local community.


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Image source, Getty Images

After Hanawon, defectors are assigned a public rental home. Multiple sclerosis Kim to be left with a box of food - ramen, rice, oil and also condiments - come last for the first couple of days:


A counsellor or a defector who has actually already worked out helps clean the house and also provides added support.


North Koreans who clear up in southern Korea room assigned a police officer who keeps an eye ~ above them. "You have the right to think that it as being assigned a neighborhood friendly bobby who checks in every now and then," claims Mr Park.


"Sometimes they become friends . They're frequently older officers, more of a dad figure. Their duty is to examine in - virtually like a society service."


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South Korea's assistance for defectors

12weeks of adaptation training

$6,000-$32,400settlement benefits (depending on size of household)

$13,300-$19,100Housing subsidy

Freeeducation in windy schools and universities

Source: to adjust of Unification


In terms of mental health and wellness support, mr Park claims that there room some counselling services obtainable but it's an area which needs improvement. The worry was put in the spotlight in 2019 as soon as defector Han Sung-ok and also her boy were found dead in an apartment in Seoul. Lock are thought to have starved come death. Neighbours described her together as distracted and also anxious.


Many defectors will have suffered extreme trauma yet are unlikely to seek assist or recognize where to find it. According to a survey of North korean refugees in south Korea, about 15% recognize to having actually suicidal thoughts - 10% greater than the South oriental average.


"Mental health and wellness requires social readjust and awareness for this reason that human being can recognize these things and also seek aid and think that it's it s okay to seek help," the said.


Fyodor Tertitsky, a north Korea analyst, claims that life in south Korea can be isolating for defectors, and also not just since they've gone into a fully different society. They room seen by plenty of as "others".


"You can't go home since you are thought about a traitor and you are reduced off native your family or friends and also surroundings," claims Mr Tertitsky. "It's a traumatising experience particularly if girlfriend forced to flee."


"Education in north Korea and also South Korea are totally different and there are few jobs that North Koreans deserve to do in southern Korea," multiple sclerosis Kim says.


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Image source, Kim Ji-young
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"It's hard due to the fact that defectors have never heard the part-time jobs and also have never found a project on their own before. Castle are frequently ignored in interviews."


When women room young, she says, they normally serve food in restaurants and as they become older, shift to work as kitchen assistants. Men usually have actually jobs packing digital shopping orders or in the construction industry.


North oriental defectors are offered incentives to work and also stick in ~ a job and gain skills. South korean businesses are likewise given incentives to rental defectors.


For those who want to further their education, there space subsidies. Defectors don't need to pay for undergraduate college degrees and also those under 35 can likewise go come graduate college for free. There are additionally various scholarships available.

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Kim Seong-min, a defector that left phibìc Korea in 1996, is appreciative of the educational opportunities that were available. He an initial worked as a cleaner and also janitor because that an uncle, yet went top top to gain a graduate degree in an innovative writing. That opened doors at the public broadcaster, KBS, whereby he came to be a scriptwriter for dramas.


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Image source, Kim Seong Min

In 2004, the established complimentary North Korea Radio, a station mainly run by defectors the broadcasts right into North Korea and carries objections of the government and also leadership.


They one of two people attend local South korean schools or schools that specifically cater for North korean children.


At the latter schools, college student "are surrounded by children from a singular background", claims Mr Tertitsky. "It's no the finest place due to the fact that you are getting a limited education, you're not exposed come South oriental society.


"In one more sense, if you walk to a South oriental school, children can it is in cruel. They deserve to look under on you and also it's not basic to capture up through them. It's no the many pleasant place."


In general, says Mr Kim, North oriental students at center schools, high schools and colleges loss behind in their studies compared to their South korean peers, and sometimes autumn out as result of the obstacles they face.