01/27/2006, 00.00
South Korea - North Korea
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South Korea "widespread" discrimination against refugees from the North

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

A survey presented yesterday by the National Human Rights Commission highlights various forms of discrimination against refugees fleeing the North Korean regime.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – More than 67 percent of North Korean defectors say they have suffered workplace discrimination in the South.  This according to a survey presented yesterday by the National Human Rights Commission, conducted on commission by the "Research Institute of Peace Studies".

The discrimination the refugees are subjected to has many forms.  More than 50 percent of those surveyed said they are discriminated against in terms of income, while 52.7 percent said they get unfair treatment in promotion.

In the case of students, 20 percent of the young defectors experienced bullying because they are defectors, while 48 percent of the students attend schools without revealing they are from the North.

The South Korean government plays an important part in the continuing discomfort of refugees: 20 percent  are subject to government agents' calls late at night, while about 30 percent also thought to be "still under the surveillance".

Despite this, North Koreans have a "very positive impression" of the treatment they received from border agents on their defection and attest to an excellent impression of Hanawon's programme, run by the Catholic Church on government request, with the aim of greater integration of all defectors.

According to official figures supplied January 23rd  by the South Korean Ministry for Unification Nearly 1,400 North Koreans defected to the South last year alone, bringing the total number of defectors from North Korea to the South to 8,000 since the end of the Korean War.


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