80% of Defectors Struggle to Hold Down Positions

Almost 80% of defectors spend less than two years in any job, according to new research by Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKBD).

Indeed, in many cases the number falls well below two years. NKBD, taking a sample of 396 defectors, revealed today that 18.2% of defectors actually fail to stay in jobs for more than a month, while a further 28.8% fall short of six months, and 32.4% between six months and two years, meaning a total of 79.4%.

On the other hand, 11.8% do their job for more than three years, with a further 8.8% working for between two and three years

Nationwide, 2008 research by Statistics Korea, the state statistics agency, revealed that just 47% of South Koreans in their jobs for less than two years.

Discussing the causes of this huge discrepancy between groups, Lee Yong Hwa, the research team leader for NKBD explained, “Most defectors have mental and physical impairments due to experiences of forced repatriation and human rights violations, and these have a big effect on length of service,” but added, “However, we believe that in the long term the length of service of defector workers will improve.”

“Another reason for their short service is that most of the defectors settled in Korea are women, and they stop working when they start a family. Additionally, many start studying late in life,” she added.

On the other hand, however, the research revealed that a good percentage of working defectors are satisfied with their work.

According to NKBD, 33.1% of defectors reported being “exceedingly satisfied”, and another 46.2% “a little bit satisfied”, while only 14.8% and 5.9% reported being “a little bit dissatisfied” or “exceedingly dissatisfied.”

“Fundamentally, when defectors take part in the survey, many answer based on their experiences in North Korea,” Lee explained, adding, “Not only are the circumstances in Korea relatively good, but working defectors are also generally satisfied with their wages and welfare levels.”