Saturday, June 24, 2006

'Crash Course' for North Koreans

According to this article , the North Korean defectors are sent to resettlement centers, like the one in Anseong, which is about 50 miles south of Seoul, to receive three months 'crash- course' to get them settled into the South Korean lifestyle. However, it demonstrates that, even though both sides share a common language, there has been a substantial deviation in the two cultures for the defectors to familiarize with the South's capitalistic lifestyle too easily. One defector said it took him more than 10 years to understand how the South Korean society worked. Despite the fact that the North and the South Koreans are the same in essential, as the article goes to state, an enormous task is ahead if the two sides are to unite one day with 23 million North Koreans.


austin kim said...

After having read the article I am left even more confused as to how the South Koreans truly feel towards North Koreans and the issue of reunification. Prior to reading the article I thought that the South Koreans would be more sympathetic towards the defectors and the North Koreans as a whole. Its a shame that the defectors are often discriminated against and thus pressured to hide their identity. If the South Koreans truly beleive in refunification, I believe the first place to start is at the grass root level, and that begins with helping the defectors. If the sunshine policy prevents the government from providng more assistance to the defectors, it seems the policy as a whole seems flawed, and from a broader perspective goes aginst the democratic principles that South Korea stands for.

John said...

I thought it was interesting that the course only lasts three months. I know that is what makes it a crash course. Perhaps the duration of the course is an acknowledgement that it is almost impossible to teach someone how to live in another culture. It is far faster to take the plunge and live there. If that were the case, it would be similiar to anyone moving to a new country.

I suspect that any understanding shown by South Korean about the difficulties North Koreans face in South Korea is superficial. There seems to be a strong belief held in the South that North Koreans are still Koreans. However as the article points out, North Koreans are often treated as second-class citizens and face discrimination in South Korea because they are different.

What I got from this article is that North Koreans cannot be transformed into South Koreans as easily as some might believe. They share a common historical heritage but the divergence in lifestyle and culture while not insurmountable is steep. This article begs the question: would someone from a modern Asian country find it easier to adapt to living in South Korea than a North Korean would.

Ji-young Park said...

Sadly, in my view, such article as this only reflects by the tiniest fraction of the difficulties that will be faced with the reunification of the two sides. Regarding the discrimination, it is important to note that Koreans are a very ethnocentric people, and not just towards foreigners but towards its own people as well. Just within South Korean society, there exists strong regional discrimination that significantly affects both political and social aspects of Korean life. With such points in mind, whether the North Koreans will be welcomed wholly with wide-open arms is only questionable. It is also probable, as John said above, that someone from a modern Asian country would find it easier to adapt to living in South Korea, although, it is highly likely, as is the case in present day South Korea, that he/she will face a harsh, discriminating Korean Society, if not more than a North Korean would.
What's even more questionable then is whether North Koreans will find it 'easier' to live in a foreign country than in South Korea.

tkpark said...

I was wondering what the North actually thought about this kind of programs, since having the South help North Korean "traitors" would be going against the Sunshine policy. And on another note, I am very pessimistic that both Koreas will soon be united because honestly, not many people want that.

Although they speak the same language, share a history and can claim that they are the same people, the North and South have taken two roads in the opposite direction for over five decades. Any sign and celebration of similarity should be seen as an attempt to better the image and create an illusion that the relationship between both North and South Korea is ameliorating... It is sad, but I guess that is how it is...

Anonymous said...

Hi!! my name is felicity and i am in year 10, forth form at hamilton girls high school in new zealand. in my social studies class i have a human rights assignment about the discrimination of north koreans, today. As this is a new topic to mee i do not know a lot about the issue so i was just wondring whether anyone would answer a few questions to help me with my project??

if anyone is able to answer a few questions in their spare time to help me may you please email me on

thank you for taking the time to read this i hope to hear from some of you in the future!