Survey: 20% of North Korean defectors have considered returning

A view of Gaepung-gun county on the North Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line in the Demilitarized Zone, seen from the Odusan observatory in Paju, in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, on January 1. Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE

Jan. 31 (UPI) — More than 20 percent of North Korean defectors who resettled in South Korea said they have thought about returning to their country of origin, a survey showed on Wednesday.

According to the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights’ survey of 415 North Korean defectors living in the South, 22.9 percent said they have wanted to go back to North Korea, mostly because of families they left in the North.

The poll was conducted with NK Social Research, a survey agency specializing in North Korean defectors, between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 over telephone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Longing for reunion with families back in the North was the most frequent reason for having wanted to return, cited by 34.3 percent of those who answered in the affirmative, according to the survey. Another major reason was nostalgia for hometown.

But 71.8 percent of the poll’s total respondents said they have never thought of going back to the North, it also showed.

“The result indicates that not a small number of North Korea defectors are grappling with difficulties in resettling in the South,” the center said. “It highlights the importance of providing psychological support and stable human networks for North Korean defectors as well as economic support.”

The poll, meanwhile, showed 22.8 percent of its respondents have also dreamed of resettling in another foreign country outside South Korea while 77.2 percent said they have not.


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