Adaptation in South Korean Society of North Korean Elite Defectors

Nicolas Levi 1
  • 1 Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences, , Poland


This paper aims to explain the adaptation of North Korean elite defectors who fled from North Korea. Data used for the purpose of this article came from surveys of North Korean defectors conducted in the late 2000’s. Findings of the realized research indicate that the majority of senior defectors are experiencing less psychological and material issues when adjusting to society than regular North Korean defectors. The paper will proceed in three steps: explaining the notion of defectors, outlining their background, and focusing on their adaptation in South. Although defectors as a whole has emerged as of the most research group as a minority in South Korea, the so-called senior defectors have hardly been spotlighted. Basically North Korean senior defectors are supposed to strengthen the anti-Kim movement and legitimize the power of the South Korean government and the image of South Korea abroad. What has to be enlightened upon is the fact that North Korean senior defectors partially disagree with the integration policy of South Korean authorities. A major research question emerges: How are the experience of elite defectors localized in South Korea? How do their specific identities impact their opinion within the South Korean society? The aim of the article is also to categorize senior defectors and to provide in a single document a list of senior North Korea defectors based abroad. This kind of information is only available for Korean speaking readers. I wanted to make it accessible to the Englishspeaking community.

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