Neither the North, Nor the South-How the North Korean exiles survive after leaving their home(s) ?

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International Migration, Gender and Civil Society in East Asia


“Neither the North, Nor the South-How the North Korean exiles survive after leaving their home(s) ?”


                  KIM Kyungmook (WASEDA University)


Keywords: refugees, migrants, exiles, diasporas, complex political emergencies, common security, re-migration, border controls, and transnational networks.


1. Introduction.


Throughout the panel presentation, the presenter will look into the status of North Korean exiles around the world today. As of 2017, over 30,000 North Koreans have settled in South Korea. Most North Korean people, however, are experiencing unexpected discriminations and difficulties in adapting to new life in South Korea. As a result, some North Koreans left South Korea and moved to third countries. Some re-settled in North America or EU countries as refugees or migrants. Most, however, were not admitted to stay, as they are regarded as South Korean nationals and thus deported back to South Korea.


2. Basic Understanding of North Korean Exiles.


In this part, the presenter will explain the root causes of North Korean exiles. To help the audience’s understanding, four main research questions will be raised as follows; 

Q. North Korean exiles: Who are they?

Q. When did they start to appear?

Q. Where are they heading for?

Q. Why do they escape from North Korea?


3. Case Studies- How Gender Matters?


Majority of North Korean exiles are female so that the policies and practices are recommended to consider this situation. However, some studies examined that male exiles’ might experience more difficulties in re-settlement. The presenter will introduce some case studies that he had conducted over the past 5 years on this issue in Australia and Japan.


4. Future Scenarios.


To conclude, the presenter will offer both positive scenario and negative scenario on this issue.


5. Bibliographies.



Bell Markus. “The Ties that Bind Us: Transnational Networks of North Koreans on the Move,” in Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, Routledge, Taylor and Francis, Vol. 3, 14 May 2014.


Bell Markus & Fattig Geoffrey. “International Cooperation on the North Korean Refugee Crisis,” Forced Migration Review, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, (45) 2014, pp.59-61.


Bell, Markus. “Making and Breaking Family: North Korea’s Zainichi Returnees and “the Gift”,” in Asian Anthropology 15 (3), 2016, pp. 260-76.


Kim Kyungmook, “De-international politics of Peace,” in Oda Hiroshi and Seki Yuji (eds.), in Heiwano jinruigaku (Anthropology of Peace), Houritsu Bunkasha, 2013. (in Japanese)


Kim, Bell, and Menadue-Chun(eds.) A North Korean Refugees- Hana’s Stories, Asiapress, 2015.


Kim Kyungmook, “The study on NGOs’ humanitarian assistance- its theory and practice, The Journal of Chukyo Social Science, 2016, pp.1-28.(in Japanese)


Kim Kyungmook, “The Commonwealth and the Korean War- the legacy of memories and representation,” in the lights and shadows of the Commonwealth legacies, 2016, Nakanishiya publisher, pp.1-22. (in Japanese)