ISSN 2586-0151 (Print)
ISSN 2586-0046 (Online)
Volume 15, Number 2 (2/2019)
Original Article <page. 109-14 >

Two-Year Follow Up Study of Change in Satisfaction Level and Mental Health among North Korean Defectors

Hye Rin Lee, MD1;Ji Hyun An, MD1;Se Chang Yoon, MD, PhD1;Seo Hyun Jeong, MA1;Hye In Chang, PhD2; and Jin Pyo Hong, MD, PhD1;

1;Department of Psychiatry, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, 2;Department of Psychology, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea

Objective : The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in the satisfaction levels and mental health among North Korean defectors over two years.

Methods : At the beginning of the study, the subjects were comprised of 300 North Korean defectors registered with a regional adaptation center (the Hana Center) in South Korea. Participants reported self-questionnaires including socio-demographic variables and self-rating scales for satisfaction levels, depression symptoms, trauma-related symptoms, resilience and alcohol use behavior. In the follow up study after two years, 189 North Korean defectors participated in an online survey, responding to the same questionnaires as at baseline.

Results : The self-rated scores for satisfaction with one's overall life (p=0.008), sense of autonomy (p=0.001), sense of physical health (p<0.001), and expected life satisfaction five years later (p<0.001) had all decreased significantly at follow-up after two years. Depression symptoms (p<0.01) and trauma-related symptoms (p<0.001) increased significantly over two years, and the resilience score (p<0.01) decreased significantly during the same period. No significant differences in alcohol use behavior (p=0.059) were observed at follow-up.

Conclusion : Satisfaction levels among North Korean defectors gradually decreased over the follow-up period, and this may be due to the difficulties encountered in the process of assimilating to daily life in South Korea. Economic, medical, and psychological support is needed for successful assimilation of North Korean defectors.


Key words : North Korean defectors;Life satisfaction;Depression;Resilience.

Anxiety and Mood

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