ISSN 2586-0151 (Print)
ISSN 2586-0046 (Online)
Volume 14, Number 2 (2/2018)
Original Article <page. 80-7 >

Clinical Characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among North Korean Defectors

Kyoung Eun Lee, MD;Ji Hyun An, MD;Da Eun Kim, MA;Carloyn Seungyoun Moon, MD; and Jin Pyo Hong, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry, Sungkyunkwan University, School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

Objective : The purpose of this study was to investigate prevalence and clinical characteristics of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in North Korean defectors (NKD).

Methods : The study population consisted of 300 NKDs registered in the multi-regional adaptation center (Hana Center), within three years of settling in South Korea. We conducted in-person interviews and a survey with each subject, based on the North Korean version of the WHO-Composite International Diagnostic Interview (NK-CIDI) and various clinical scales.

Results : Lifetime prevalence of PTSD in NKDs was 15.3%, approximately nine times higher than South Koreans (1.7%). Although experiencing broader type of traumas with higher rate than South Koreans, NKDs revealed lower odds of PTSD in most type of trauma (p<0.05).

Conclusion : NKDs are at higher risk of experiencing different types of trauma than the general population in South Korea, and it is further validated that prevalence of PTSD is also higher. Careful evaluation for comorbid psychiatric symptoms and type of traumas prior to PTSD treatment for NKDs is necessary to facilitate more appropriate intervention for each subject, according to personal experience.


Key words : North Korean defectors;Prevalence;Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anxiety and Mood

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