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Migration Experiences of North Korean Refugees: Survey Evidence from China
Korea Yearbook 2009 (2009)
  • Marcus Noland, Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Stephan Haggard, University of California - San Diego
  • Yoonok Chang
Chronic food shortages, political repression, and poverty have driven tens of thousands of North Koreans into China. This paper reports results from a large-scale survey of this population. The survey provides insight not only into the material circumstances of the refugees but also into their psychological state and aspirations. One key finding is that many North Korean refugees suffer severe psychological stress akin to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This distress is caused in part by experiences in China. However, we demonstrate that it is also a result of the long shadow cast by the North Korean famine and abuses suffered at the hands of the North Korean political regime. These traumas, in turn, affect the ability of the refugees to hold jobs in China and accumulate resources for on-migration to third countries. Most of the refugees want to permanently resettle in South Korea, though younger, better-educated refugees have a greater inclination to prefer the United States as a final destination.
  • North Korea,
  • China,
  • refugees,
  • migration
Publication Date
Citation Information
Marcus Noland, Stephan Haggard and Yoonok Chang. "Migration Experiences of North Korean Refugees: Survey Evidence from China" Korea Yearbook 2009 Vol. forthcoming (2009)
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