[NK News] 7 in 10 North Korean defectors struggle to make ends meet in Seoul, survey finds

27 Mar 2024

On December 12, 2023, NK News covered NKDB’s latest research on the current economic state of North Korean escapees resettled in South Korea. According to separate surveys by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) and Seoul Institute (South Korean government think tank, North Korean escapees earn significantly less than South Koreans while working in South Korea. They are estimated to earn an average of 2,128,200 won (1,645 USD) per month, which is only 70.8% of the national average of 3,007,000 won (2,324 USD). 

(NKDB Hanna Song) "On wage disparity between North and South Korean workers in South Korea: I don’t think it’s a matter of even education, either. It’s about if companies are willing to take that risk of hiring a North Korean escapee, of giving people with different backgrounds a chance. A huge part of that is affected by your colleagues and how people treat you."

The income gap is even higher for North Korean women, especially for those with children but without support in balancing caregiving and work. In addition, NKDB’s survey showed that the unemployment rate among North Korean people increased. Therefore, it is imperative to provide North Korean escapees with better support in securing stable employment; such support should consist of efforts that extend beyond the Hana Center in informing North Korean escapees about job opportunities.

(NKDB Hanna Song) "In South Korea in general, it’s quite difficult to be like a working woman, especially if you have children, but it’s possible if you have a support network to help look after kids. But a lot of North Korean women don’t have any family in South Korea."

You can read the full article on NK News website by clicking HERE.