Study: female N. Korean defectors suffer depression, sexual abuse [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Reports from capitalist media usually make out such defectors as having reached the promised land. A staggering minimum of 85% of female defectors surveyed in south Korea suffer from some form of mental illness, 70% have chronic physical illness. Research shows this is due to overwhelmingly exploitative defection experiences. – Zuo Shou

* Women face range of dangers en route to South Korea, then difficulty settling down here *
By Lee You-jin, staff reporter

Three out of every ten female North Korean defectors who arrived via a third country suffer from some form of depression, a study shows. The results also showed that the women suffered sexual abuse during their journey to South Korea.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced the findings of a study commissioned from the Yonsei University School of Social Welfare on Oct. 23 . The study, which focused on the development of customized programs to assist abused female defectors in gaining self-sufficiency, examined 140 women between March and August of this year.

37 respondents, or 26.4%, were found to be suffering from depression, while another 80 (57.6%), showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sixty-four (45.7%) said they had considered suicide, engaged in suicidal behavior, or attempted suicide in the past year.

Ninety-eight (70%) were found to be suffering from chronic ailments such as stomach disorders, arthritis, and neuralgia.

Analysts attributed the physical and psychological symptoms to the women’s experience with sexual abuse and/or severe trauma. In particular, thirty-eight women were found to have been subjected to sexual abuse with direct physical contact while in North Korea, South Korea, or a third country, accounting for 27.1% of all participants. Defectors were found to have been threatened into sexual acts by the owner of a refuge in China, subjected to severe sexual harassment during a physical search after being sent back to North Korea, coerced into sexual acts by South Korean detectives, and abused by male acquaintances.

Forty-two of the women, or 30%, were found to have been encouraged to prostitute themselves in South Korea.

Over half the women were found to be receiving basic livelihood subsidies because of poverty – seventy-one (50.7%) of all participants. Thirty-eight (27.1%) of them had not found employment as of the time of the study. Another 58 (41.4%) were employed in temporary or day labor, with just twelve (8.6%) holding full-time jobs.

The responses also pointed to problems with occupational training during settlement in South Korea. Forty-one of the respondents who received it (29.3%) said it did not help them in settling down in South Korea.

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/557272.html

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