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Week 12 Current Situation in North Korea Discussion

Week 12 Current Situation in North Korea Discussion

Question Description

Please write your own points after read the article

Abstract

This article is a research that surveyed and compared everyday customs, such as food, clothingand shelter, rites and seasonal rituals, and awareness of daily issues, such as views on family values,marriage, education and career, of South Koreans with that of North Korean defectors, in orderto better understand the characteristics of living culture of South Koreans and North Koreandefectors and to search for ways for the two groups to communicate better and culturally integrate.The results of the research show that, in relation to everyday customs such as clothing, food andshelter, rites and seasonal rituals, both South Koreans and North Korean defectors had transformedthe traditional living culture to befit the lifestyles of the modern era. It seems that everyday customsof South Koreans had become more westernized while North Korean defectors maintained moretraditional customs, but such difference decreased as defectors spent longer time in South Korea.One commonality in everyday customs found between the two was that customs acted as amechanism maintaining a sense of community among South Koreans and among North Koreandefectors, who had lived for a long time in different systems.

Due to inter-Korea tensions, and differing experience and habits formed under the different systemsof capitalism and socialism, a large gap between the two groups was found in the area of dayto day awareness and values. Differences were most pronounced in views on marriage and career.First of all, South Koreans were more negative toward marriage with a North Korean defector than

* This paper is a summarized and revised version of the article “Basic Research on Living Cultures of SouthKoreans and North Korean Defectors.” published in History and Culture Studies Vol.48(2013).
This research was implemented under the support from the National Research Foundation of Korea with agrant endowed by the government (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) in 2009(NRF-2009-361-A00008).

Received December 31 2015; Revised version received January 31 2016; Accepted February 15 2016

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with a Korean of another country whereas the defectors were more negative toward marriage withan overseas Korean and positive toward marriage with a South Korean. Secondly, for South Koreans,the higher the income, the stronger the pride they had over their jobs. However, for North Korean,those with lower income tended to be more proud of their jobs. South Koreans preferred becomingcivil servants and professionals. North Korean defectors also added to the list, workers, as a jobthat made them proud. Thirdly, in choosing their jobs, South Koreans felt the thoughts and adviceof their parents to be important while North Korean defectors were more reliant on state policy.The results of this study gives us important insight into how we can promote cultural integrationof South Koreans and North Korean defectors. First of all, the negative perspective South Koreanshave of North Korean defectors has to be fundamentally revisited. It is essential that the prejudiceof equating ordinary North Koreans with the government be overcome and that North Koreandefectors be seen with a sense of national solidarity. Secondly, South Koreans and North Koreansdefectors need to share the advantages of individualism and collectivism that the two sides hadacquired as a result of living under different systems, and be able to use those advantages as adriver of social development. Third, cultural integration between South Koreans and North Koreandefectors must be a process of attaining diversity in national everyday customs while respectingthe customs of the other, and also of heading toward further expanding and developing nationaleveryday customs.

Keywords: South Koreans, North Korean defectors, living culture, communication, culturalintegration

1. Introduction

In 1948, two regimes were established, one in the South and the other in theNorth of the Korean Peninsula. Although the two broadly shared a common livingculture with a long history, after the division of the Peninsula, the culture in theSouth and that of the North started to diverge. The everyday living culture of eachside underwent transformation under the complex influence of division, KoreanWar, compressed modernization and capitalism or socialism.

The objective of this study is to use the results of the survey to compare andanalyze the living culture of South Koreans and that of North Korean defectors.Everyday living culture is bound to change according to time and place. Havinggone through the destruction and influx of foreign aid as the result of the warin the 1950’s, cultural influence of the US and the USSR, compressed

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modernization under either capitalism or socialism during and after the 1960’s,and globalization, isolation and the Arduous March experienced during the 1990’s,South Koreans and North Korean defectors unknowingly started to lead verydifferent lives. The main part of this paper will look into how traditional livingcultures of South Koreans and North Korean defectors changed over the years,focusing on everyday customs and awareness on daily issues.

During the late 1990’s, North Korea went through a severe food shortage,leading to many North Koreans defectors1) to escape to the South. As of May2013, there were a total of 25,560 North Korean defectors who had entered SouthKorea2). According to other previous research surveying North Korean defectors,differences in the mindset, culture and everyday customs were the main factorsthat made it difficult for the defectors to adapt to the South Korean society, andthis difference did not decrease over time (Chŏn 1997, 109-167).

And because of this kind of experience, many North Korean defectors pointedout that they thought the differences in perspective, culture, daily habits andcustoms between South and North Koreans would become the biggest problemshould the Peninsula become reunified (Chŏn 1997, 109-167). Such research resultsshow that there is a need for scholars to properly research into the everyday livingculture of South Koreans and that of North Korean defectors and to come up witha viable solution.

Until now, studies on the living culture of South Koreans and that of NorthKorean defectors had been performed separately. However, approaching the twogroups separately will not be effective in coming up with new prospects. In orderto promote understanding, communication and integration between the two, it is

1) Before 1990’s, South Koreans referred to the people who had fled North Korea and settled in the South asKwisuncha (surrendering defectors)’ or ‘Kwisunyongsa (surrendering warriors)’. After 1990’s, with thegrowth in the number of people fleeing from the economic crisis in the North, the term T’alpukcha(people fleeing the North)’ was widely used. However, some in the South pointed out that the termT’alpukcha had a negative connotation in regard to the North and that another term should be usedinstead, at which South Korea’s Ministry of Unification created a euphemism of Saetŏmin (people of thenew land) and announced it on 9th January 2005. However, the legal and official term referring to eitherKwisuncha, T’alpukcha or Saetŏmin is still Pukhanitalchumin (North Korean defectors). This paper will usethe term ‘North Korean defectors’ to refer to Pukhanitalchumin, the official legal term referring to “peoplewho had defected from North Korea and gained residency in South Korea”.

2) Statistics from website of the Resettlement Support Division of Ministry of Unification(http://www.unikorea.go.kr, accessed 10thSep, 2013).

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necessary to historically compare similarities and differences between the livingculture of South Koreans and that of North Korean defectors.

To understand the characteristics of the living culture of South Koreans andNorth Korean defectors, it is essential that, first of all, a basic survey be carriedout to comprehensively understand the two cultures on the same level. Based onthis kind of survey, the two cultures can be compared and analyzed, and theirsimilarities and differences properly understood. This process will enable SouthKoreans and North Korean defectors to find a road to socio-cultural integration.

From 3rd January to 28th February 2011, the Konkuk University Institute ofHumanities for Unification performed a survey on the living cultures of SouthKoreans and North Korean defectors. 501 South Koreans and 109 North Koreandefectors residing in the areas of Seoul, Suwon and Namyangju participated3).Sampling was based on gender and age to decide on the target population, andthe survey included basic questions on locality, place of birth, age, gender,nationality, generation, level of education, marital status, structure and compositionof family, period of residence, form of housing and income (in the case ofdefectors, the year of entry into South Korea was added). In the section surveyingeveryday customs, there were questions in regard to language, food, clothing andshelter, and seasonal rituals, and in the section asking about awareness on dailyissues, there were questions related to the idea of supporting one’s parents,preference for sons, and perspectives on marriage, education and career4).

  1. 3) As of August 2011, according to a study by the Ministry of Unification, place of residency for NorthKorean defectors were distributed as follows: 29.4% in Seoul City, 26.6% in Gyeonggi Province, 9.4% inIncheon City, 4.1% in Busan City, 3.7% in Gyeongnam Province, 3.8% in Choongnam Province, 3.1% inDaegu City, 3.7% in Gyeongbuk Province, 3.0% Choongbuk Province, 2.7% Gwangju City, 2.5% inGangwon Province, 2.3% in Daejeon City, 2.2% in Jeonnam Province, 1.9% in Jeonbuk Province, 1.3%in Ulsan City and 0.6% in Jeju Island (Statistics from Resettlement Support Division of the Ministry ofUnification, http://www.unikorea.go.kr,accessed 10th Sep,2013).
  2. 4) In the process of organizing the results into tables, duplicate answers and non-responses were excluded.This is why in some cases, the total does not add up to 100%. Unit is %.

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2. Everyday Customs: Traditional Customs Being Maintained

a) Food, Clothing and Shelter

In regard to the question on people’s perception of days that the Hanbok, Koreantraditional costume, should be worn, South Koreans replied that they enjoyedwearing Hanbok ‘on special occasions’ and ‘on national holidays’. 30.5% repliedthat they don’t wear Hanbok. Only 2.6% replied that Hanbok was their everydayattire, showing that it had changed from an everyday clothing to a ceremonialcostume.

<Table 1> Days Hanbok should be worn

South Koreans

North Korean defectors

Don’t wear Hanbok

30.5

45.0

On national holidays

40.1

36.7

Special occasions

40.7

17.4

Family gatherings

3.5

5.5

Everyday

2.6

0.9

As to the question of why respondents wore Hanbok, among South Koreans,the answer ‘because all should wear Hanbok on special occasions’ ranked firstat 35.7%, ‘because Hanbok is beautiful’ ranked second (22.6%) and ‘because itmakes me feel Korean’ came next (16.4%). On the other hand, in the case of NorthKorean defectors, 26.7% answered ‘because it makes me feel Korean’, 25.0%‘because Hanbok is beautiful’ and 23.3% ‘because I want to proudly show I amKorean’, and 20.0% ‘because all should wear Hanbok on special occasions’.

Whereas South Koreans took it for granted that they wear Hanbok on specialoccasions because everyone had to, defectors wanted to show their consciousnessand pride as Koreans by wearing Hanbok. Since the 1990’s in North Korea,Hanbok started to be referred to as national (minjok) clothing and people wereencouraged to wear it (Kim, Seok-Hyang 2007, 84-88). Due to the influence ofthis kind of campaign, North Korean defectors also came to naturally consider the

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Hanbok as an attire that overtly manifested national identity.
In regard to the question Do you think you should always have kimchi withyour meals? , 29.5% of South Koreans replied ‘very much so’ and 41.9% replied’yes’. So a total of 71.4% had replied positively to the question. When broken downaccording to age, respondents in their 20’s expressed the lowest preference forkimchi because they were the generation exposed the most to global cuisine and

enjoyed different tastes.

<Table 2> Do you think you should always have kimchi with your meals?: South Koreans

Total

Age group

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Very much so

29.5

34.9

26.7

20.2

39.2

28.6

29.3

Yes

41.9

38.1

33.7

51.0

31.4

44.6

56.0

No

13.8

14.3

14.9

19.2

14.7

10.7

5.3

Doesn’t matter

14.2

12.7

23.8

9.6

14.7

14.3

8.0

<Table 3> Do you think you should always have kimchi with your meals?: North Korean defectors

Total

Age group

Year of Entry intoS.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Before2006

2006 andlater

Very much so

55.0

100

58.5

50.0

57.1

54.5

37.5

53.8

77.9

Yes

33.9

24.4

38.9

39.3

36.4

50.0

3.8

10.3

No

4.6

7.3

3.6

9.1

30.8

5.9

Doesn’t matter

6.4

9.8

11.1

12.5

11.5

5.9

For North Korean defectors, in all age groups, nearly 90% replied either ‘yes’or ‘very much so’. The latter answer was 35% higher than that of South Koreans.The number of defectors who either replied ‘no’ or ‘very much no’ was half thatof South Koreans, showing a high dependency on kimchi.5) The kimchi preference

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of North Koreans can be explained by the North’s emphasis on North Koreantraditional foods6) as well as the influence of the typical simple diet of workingclass North Koreans basically consisting of rice, soup and kimchi, complementedby one or two vegetable dishes (Hwang and Chang 2001, 376). On the other hand,South Koreans showed a lower preference for kimchi because Korean food culturehas become more diversified through westernization and globalization (KoreanHistory Research Association 1999, 153-169).

On why kimchi should always be there with meals, majority of South Koreansreplied ‘because it suits the Korean palate (50.3%)’, and ‘because it tastes good(19.2%)’. North Korean defectors replied similarly – ‘because it suits the Koreanpalate (70.1%)’, and ‘because it tastes good (7.2%). Both South Koreans anddefectors alike were enjoying kimchi because it was a natural living culture. Thiskind of embodied kimchi-centered food culture does not easily change and bothSouth Koreans as well as North Korean defectors were sustaining this culture andhanding it down to younger generations.

b) Customs and Seasonal Rituals

In regard to the question, Do you think the coming of age, marriages, funeralsand ancestral memorial rituals should be performed in the traditional way? ,slightly more South Koreans answered negatively (‘not necessarily’ 53.8%) thanpositively (‘must’ 5.6% and ‘as much as possible’ 40.3%) whereas more NorthKorean defectors answered positively (‘must’ 22.0%, ‘as much as possible’ 37.6%)than negatively (‘not necessarily’ 39.4%). In short, 15% more North Koreandefectors, in comparison to South Koreans, thought traditional rituals should beadhered to.

5) The same result was found in Song Chu-Un’s 2002 survey of 59 North Korean defectors (Song 2002, 141).6) In an opinion article titled Arirang of the Sun Nationon July 11, 2002, Rodong Simun emphasized, All Koreans should be familiar with the pleasant kimchi taste. All Koreans love the chŏgori of Korean

skirts, Pyŏngyang-style cold noodles and the savory fermented soybean soup.

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<Table 4> Do you think coming of age ceremonies, marriages, funerals andancestral memorial rituals should be performed in the traditional way?:South Koreans

Age group

Marital status

Gender

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Notmarried

Married

Men

Women

Must

7.9

6.9

1.0

6.9

3.6

8.0

7.1

4.7

8.8

3.2

As much aspossible

27.0

28.7

52.9

45.1

48.2

37.3

29.9

46.5

46.1

35.7

Not necessarily

63.5

62.4

46.2

48.0

48.2

53.3

61.4

48.4

44.2

60.4

<Table 5> Do you think coming of age ceremonies, marriages, funerals andancestral memorial rituals should be performed in the traditional way?:North Korean defectors

Age group

Gender

Year of Entry intoS.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Men

Women

Before2006

2006 andlater

Must

22.0

27.8

10.7

36.4

37.5

18.5

24.5

6.9

26.9

As much aspossible

100

36.6

33.3

35.7

36.4

37.5

37.0

39.6

51.7

33.8

Not necessarily

41.5

38.9

50.0

27.3

25.0

42.9

35.8

37.9

40.3

In the case of South Koreans, the younger the respondents and more womenthan men thought the four major rituals (coming of age ceremonies, marriages,funerals and ancestral memorials) did not have to be followed in the traditionalway. Among the different age groups, people in their teens and 20’s recorded thehighest for ‘not necessarily’ when it came to traditional observation of the fourmajor rituals while people between the ages of 30’s and 50’s answered the highestfor ‘must’. The difference between the former and the latter was nearly 20%. Thosein their teens and 20’s tend to be critical toward adhering to traditional ways ofperforming the four major events.

As for North Korean defectors, the percentage for ‘not necessarily’ grew as

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respondents became younger, but the result for those in their 40’s stood out – 50%replied ‘not necessarily’. Defectors in their 40’s had spent their teenage years duringthe 1970’s in North Korea, which was when the single ideology system wasestablished, and thus did not strictly follow traditional customs (Chu 1994,494-495). Another reason could be that their awareness level for traditional ritualsweakened because they were the ones who were breadwinners of their familiesduring the difficult economic circumstances of 1990’s – referred to as the ‘ArduousMarch’ – during which it was hard to maintain traditional rituals (Kim and Chungeds. 2012, 136-137).

On the other hand, in regard to the question, Traditional holidays enjoyed bymy family , South Koreans replied 97.4% for the ‘Lunar New Year’, 94.2% for’Thanksgiving (Ch’usŏk)’, 34.1% for the ‘First Full Moon’, 7.2% for ‘Hansik’ and5.6% for ‘Tano’. For North Korean defectors, the order was ‘Lunar New Year’86.2%, ‘Ch’usŏk’ 78.0%, ‘First Full Moon’ 32.1%, ‘Hansik’ 32.1% and ‘Tano’ 26.6%.The ranking was the same, but a difference in the percentage could be observed.For South Koreans, the Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving were consideredimportant holidays during which the entire family had to gather even if it meantlarge-scale, long distance traveling, but for North Korean defectors whose familieshave been separated, the significance of ‘holidays enjoyed by the entire family’was inevitably weaker. However, it seems that North Korean defectors stillobserved traditionally holidays like Hansik and Tano7), which have relativelybecome less observed in South Korea.

These results reflect the holiday-related customs of North Korea. In May 1967,North Korea reduced the number of traditional holidays to be observed, underorders from President Kim Il Sŏng that Remnants of feudalism must be rootedout.However, during the late 1980’s some were revived and became a time for

7) In an agricultural society, the First Full Moon was a day bidding farewell to winter and ushering in thefarming season, celebrated in the form of a festival praying for a good harvest. Hansik was the 105th dayafter the winter solstice. It was a day to prepare for the upcoming new farming season, planting trees orsowing vegetable seeds. Tano, since long ago, was considered the day when the yang force was thestrongest and so was observed as one of the major holidays in Korea, Japan and China. During theagricultural period, it was a day farmers could rest, having finished sowing seeds of vegetables and rice,so farmers enjoyed themselves as much as they could on this day (Research Institute of Korean Studies2001, 74, 83, 180).

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families, neighbors and co-workers to enjoy themselves (Chu 1994, 447-467).8)On Lunar New Year and Ch’usŏk, North Koreans perform simplified ancestralmemorial rituals, and on the First Full Moon, eat traditional First Full Moon foods.On Hansik, they visit, or if necessary, move, the graves of their ancestors, andon Tano, workers spend the day playing sports or games together.9)

<Table 6> Traditional holidays enjoyed by my family (multiple response): South Koreans

Total

Age group

Family structure

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Single

Nuclearfamily

2-generationfamily

3-generationfamily

Lunar New Year

97.4

95.2

98.0

99.0

98.2

98.2

94.7

100

98.0

100

87.8

Ch’usŏk

94.2

92.1

95.0

99.0

97.1

96.4

82.7

92.6

94.6

96.1

87.8

First Full Moon

34.1

30.2

38.6

30.8

35.3

33.9

34.7

14.8

34.4

35.5

41.5

Hansik

7.2

11.1

5.0

9.6

5.9

5.4

6.7

3.7

7.4

7.9

7.3

Tano

5.6

7.9

11.9

4.8

2.0

5.4

1.3

3.7

6.5

3.9

2.4

<Table 7> Traditional holidays enjoyed by my family (multiple response): North Korean defectors

Total

Age group

Year of entry intoS.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Before 2006

2006 andlater

Lunar New Year

86.2

100

90.2

83.3

85.7

90.9

62.5

89.7

87.0

Chusŏk

78.0

100

75.6

94.4

75.0

72.7

62.5

69.0

81.8

First Full Moon

32.1

36.6

55.6

25.0

9.1

25.0

20.7

36.4

Hansik

32.1

50

29.3

44.4

28.6

27.3

37.5

13.8

39.0

Tano

26.6

50

29.3

38.9

25.0

25.0

13.8

32.5

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  1. 8) Hansik remains an important occasion in North Korea, unlike South Korea, where it has diminished. OnHansik, North Korean trains are fully packed with people, and in major cities like Pyŏngyang, trafficcongestion becomes quite severe with people traveling to their ancestors’ graves (Chu 1994, 516-517).
  2. 9) Interview with North Korean defector ‘Shin’ (Aged 32, from Hoeryŏng, Hamkyŏngbuk Province), 5pm~7pm,11th November, 2013, Room 209, College of Humanities, Konkuk University.

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The survey looking into everyday life customs of South Koreans and NorthKorean defectors revealed that the Hanbok, for South Koreans, had changed intoa ceremonial attire worn only on special events and traditional holidays. Kimchihad become a part of everyday life and the center of Koreans’ diet. With the onsetof an industrial society, seasonal traditional holidays had diminished, however,some remaining traditional holidays were considered days one enjoyed with one’sfamily and observes traditions by, for example, performing memorial rites for theancestors. Compared to South Koreans, more North Korean defectors maintainedand observed traditional holidays, but all in all, it seems that traditional livingculture, of both South Koreans and the defectors, was evolving to match thelifestyles of the modern era.

3. Awareness of Daily Issues: Reflecting Differing ExperienceUnder Capitalism and Socialism

a) Family Values

In Confucian cultures, filial piety forms the basis of morals. Filial piety is alsorelated to loyalty toward the state, and thus acts as an ideology that consolidatesthe vertical structure between the family and the state. Since the Chosŏn Dynasty,filial piety has been important in the lives of the Korean people, and the idea ofshowing respect to and supporting one’s parents are thought to be still valid today(Park et al 2003, 50). In order to find out the level of awareness in regard tothe idea of having to support one’s parents, an idea that epitomizes filial piety,the question Do you think children should support their parents?was asked toboth South Koreans and North Korean defectors.

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<Table 8> Do you think children should support their parents?: South Koreans

Total

Age group

Gender

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Men

Women

Very much so

9.8

19.0

11.9

4.8

6.9

10.7

9.3

10.1

9.5

Yes

42.9

55.6

51.5

37.5

38.2

35.7

40.0

52.1

35.7

No

46.7

25.4

35.6

57.7

54.9

53.6

48.0

36.9

54.4

<Table 9> Do you think children should support their parents?: North Koreandefectors

Total

Age group

Gender

Year of entry intoS.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Men

Women

Before2006

2006 andlater

Very much so

30.3

31.7

27.8

25.0

45.5

37.5

10.1

9.5

24.1

32.5

Yes

52.3

50.0

61.0

55.6

50.0

45.5

12.5

52.1

35.7

55.2

51.9

No

16.9

50.0

7.3

16.7

25.0

9.1

37.5

36.9

54.4

20.7

15.6

For South Koreans, those who replied ‘yes’ was slightly higher at 52.7% than’no’ at 46.7%. For North Korean defectors, ‘yes’ was 82.6% and ‘no’ 16.5%,showing a stronger tendency toward supporting one’s parents. When broken downaccording to age and gender, among South Koreans, those within the age groupsof 30’s to 50’s and women replied ‘no’ at a higher rate than average, and the samewent for North Korean defectors in the age groups of 30’s and 40’s, and women.They are the ones who bear the actual responsibility of having to support theirparents. It can be deduced that those who shoulder the actual burden of sustainingtheir parents – namely, South Koreans in the age groups of 30’s to 50’s and women,and North Korean defectors in the age groups of 30’s and 40’s and women – tendto think the state and society, and not just the children, should also take on theresponsibility of taking care of the elderly.

These results need to be particularly noted by both Koreas, which consider filialpiety to be a virtue of a different level compared to other nations. In order tosustain and preserve filial piety as a traditional virtue, the responsibility of supportingone’s parents should not be shifted only to the individual and his or her family

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A Comparative Study on Everyday Life of South Koreans and North Korean Defectors

in the name of morals, but the state and local communities should be able to takeon some of the burden and actively put in place a socialized caregiving service,so that a physical basis that can actually uphold the traditional virtue of filial pietycan be established (Lee 2011, 41). Traditions are handed down to future generationsnot simply through morals of individuals. They are maintained and further developedthrough the state system and the societal system befitting to the modern era.

Although the idea that parents have to be supported by their children isweakening, both South Koreans and North Korean defectors showed a strongerawareness toward the need to celebrate the birthdays of their parents and otherfamily milestones. In a request for the respondents to choose which events allfamily members must attend, apart from weddings and funerals, 75.4% of SouthKoreans chose ‘parent’s birthday’, 72.1% ‘Ch’usŏk’, 70.3% ‘Lunar New Year’, and66.5% ‘other special family events’. 61.5% of North Korean defectors answered’parent’s birthday’, 46.8% ‘Lunar New Year’, 42.2% ‘Ch’usŏk’, and 23.9% ‘otherspecial family events’. It seems that parent’s birthdays had priority over traditionalholidays, showing that familism is still quite strong in both societies. However,in the case of North Korean defectors, because they were already separated fromtheir families and could not come together, the overall percentage was lowercompared to South Koreans.

In a question asking which gender they prefer for newborns, South Koreansoverwhelmingly answered ‘does not matter’ and, in fact, showed a preference forgirls over boys.10) This preference for girls, who in general tend to be more caringand sensitive toward her parents, reflects the fact that there has been a transitionfrom the pre-modern child-parent relationship based on rules and obligations ofhaving to continue the family name, perform ancestral memorial rituals and supportaging parents, to a more modern relationship based on affection and caregiving(Chung and Kang 2012, 52). Other recent research also show that the sense offulfillment parents feel in regard to their children has shifted from socio-economicsuccess to emotional benefits of childrearing (Nam and Chung 2012, 114).

10) According to Korea Institute of Childcare and Education’s Panel Study on Korean Children 2008 , bothparents were found to prefer daughters. The strong preference for sons has started to disappear in Koreansociety since the 2000’s.

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<Table 10> Which gender do you prefer for newborns?: South Koreans

Total

Age group

Marital status

Family structure

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Married

Unmarried

Single

Nuclearfamily

2-generationfamily

3generationfamily

Son

11.4

11.1

7.9

11.5

8.8

12.5

18.7

9.8

12.3

11.1

11.1

14.5

9.8

Daughter

16.8

36.5

20.8

14.4

16.7

10.7

2.7

24.5

12.3

11.1

18.8

13.2

7.3

Does notmatter

70.9

52.4

70.3

74.0

73.5

73.2

77.3

65.2

74.1

77.8

69.0

72.4

80.5

<Table 11> Which gender do you prefer for newborns?: North Korean defectors

Answer

Total

Age group

Gender

Marital status

Year of entryinto S.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Men

Women

Married

Unmarried

Before2006

2006andlater

Son

27.5

31.7

16.7

35.7

18.2

25.0

38.9

15.1

29.8

25.0

20.7

29.9

Daughter

34.9

39.0

44.4

25.0

45.5

25.0

29.6

39.6

28.1

42.3

37.9

35.1

Does notmatter

36.7

100.0

29.3

38.9

39.3

36.4

37.5

31.5

43.4

42.1

30.8

41.4

35.1

It is quite interesting to see that even North Korean defectors preferred daughtersover sons because North Korea is usually considered more patriarchal than SouthKorea (Kim, Young-Hee 2006; Yoon 2009). The result seems to reflect the factthat when North Korea underwent severe difficulties during the 1990’s, morewomen became economically active, leading to changes in roles within families.After 1990’s, the planned economic system in North Korean crashed and marketsflourished. Majority of the sellers in markets were women. During the economiccrisis, women who became economically active in the markets saw their socialstatus rise11). With the diminished role of men within families, the preference forsons also decreased.

11) On the issue of change in awareness of North Korean women during and after the economic crisis, referto Lee Mi-Kyung(2006) and Kim Seok-Hyang(2006a).

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A Comparative Study on Everyday Life of South Koreans and North Korean Defectors

b) Views on Marriage

The question What do you think about marriage between an overseas Koreanor North Korean defector and a South Korean?was asked to both South Koreansand North Korean defectors. For both groups, the highest percentage was recordedfor ‘does not matter’, but a closer look at the results manifests a shark contrastbetween South Koreans and North Korean defectors. As prospects in marriage,South Koreans tended to prefer Korean-Americans, then Korean-Japanese, thenKorean-Chinese, and then North Korean defectors. This order of preference seemsto show that South Koreans felt distant from North Korean defectors. It seemsthat North Korea’s recent moves, such as the hereditary succession of power, theMilitary First doctrine, food shortage and nuclear weapons development, have ledto a stronger perception of North Korea as an abnormal nation, which in turn seemsto result in a sense of antipathy toward North Koreans defectors.12)

<Table 12> What do you think about marriage between an overseas Korean orNorth Korean defector and a South Korean?: South Koreans

Groups of Koreans

Korean-American

Korean-Japanese

Korean-Chinese

North Koreandefectors

Absolutely against

2.8

6.0

4.4

7.8

Avoid as much aspossible

19.6

22.2

26.3

31.5

Does not matter

76.8

71.3

68.7

60.1

Women showed more negative feelings than men toward the idea of marryinga North Korean defector. There was only a 2~3% difference between the twogenders in regard to overseas Koreans, but when it came to North Korean defectors,the gap increased to more than 10%. Such views of women seem to reflect thefact that women, in regard to international marriage or marriage with an overseasKorean, think importantly of the economic status of the prospect’s home country

12) According to recent research, the biggest reason South Koreans feel prejudice toward North Koreans wasfound to be because of their hostility toward the North Korean regime (Shin 2009, 128).

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(Kim, Doo Sub 2006, 38). It also reflects the fact that they are reluctant to marrya North Korean defector who is likely to be more patriarchal in daily life, andalso that they have a strong prejudice13) toward North Korean defectors in general.

<Table 13> Who do you prefer as your marriage prospect?: North Korean defectors

Total

Age group

Gender

Year of Entryinto S.Korea

Teens

20’s

30’s

40’s

50’s

60 andabove

Men

Women

Before2006

2006and later

North Koreandefector

30.3

19.5

22.2

50.0

27.3

50.0

42.6

18.9

31.0

29.9

South Korean

23.9

50.0

24.4

33.3

14.3

18.2

37.5

13.0

32.1

10.3

28.6

Korean-Chinese

0.9

5.6

1.9

1.3

Korean-Japanese

0.9

2.4

1.9

3.4

Korean-American

0.9

2.4

1.9

1.3

Does not matter

42.2

50.0

51.2

38.9

32.1

54.5

12.5

38.9

47.2

51.7

39.0

On the other hand, in regard to the question Who do you prefer as yourmarriage prospect?the order of preference for North Korean defectors was ‘doesnot matter’, then ‘North Korean defector’ and then ‘South Korean’. The preferencefor overseas Koreans was very low, recording less than 1% for all groups -Chinese, Japanese and American.14) However, the percentage for South Koreanswas quite high. It was female North Korean defectors who led the trend. FemaleNorth Korean defectors preferred South Koreans as their marriage prospectswhereas male North Korean defectors preferred female defectors.

The gender gap in preference toward South Koreans as marriage prospects isdirectly related to the defectors’ experiences of North Korea and their ability toadapt to South Korean society. North Korea, as a socialist state, emphasizes gender

  1. 13) It has been surveyed that South Koreans are prejudiced toward North Korean defectors because, firstly,they detest the North Korean regime, secondly, they feel the defectors do not have sufficient knowledgeabout South Korea, and thirdly, the defectors are from North Korea (Shin 2009, 128).
  2. 14) This seems to be because the idea of ‘bloodline’ emphasized by North Korea exerts influence upon themindset of North Korean defectors. In regard to how a national identity (minjok) theory emphasizingbloodline was established in North Korea, refer to Kim Tae-Woo(2002).

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A Comparative Study on Everyday Life of South Koreans and North Korean Defectors

equality, but in fact, maintains strong patriarchal traditions in its culture. MaleNorth Korean defectors feel that South Korean women are overly assertive andfastidious, and thus tend to prefer female defectors over South Korean women.

Unlike male defectors who go through a lot of difficulties adjusting to SouthKorean society15), female defectors adapt very well and show a preference forSouth Korean men over their patriarchal male counterparts as their possiblepartners in marriage. Such gender difference in preference for marriage partnersis indeed reflected in actual marriage. In a survey performed by Korea HanaFoundation in 2011 on 8,299 North Korean defectors residing in South Korea, itwas found that among male defectors who married after leaving the North, 10.2%married a South Korean partner, however, among female defectors, the rate was32.7% (Jeon 2012, 96).

c) Views on Education and Career

The next section of the questionnaire aimed to look at North and South Koreans’views on education and career. Questions in this section were related to the reasonchildren were sent to daycare, level of trust toward school education, future ofchildren, thoughts on national identity (minjok) education and in what areas itshould be reinforced, pride toward one’s job, people (groups) affecting jobselection, criteria for choosing a job and thoughts on success.

First of all, in regard to the reason children were sent to daycare, South Koreansreplied in the order of ‘because there is no-one to take care of the child’, ‘for themto foster social skills’ and ‘for education’, whereas North Korean defectors repliedin the order of ‘don’t know because I do not send my child to daycare’, ‘foreducation’ and ‘because there is no-one to take care of the child’. South Koreansseemed to understand daycare as a place for their child to foster social skillswhereas North Korean defectors seemed to place stronger emphasis on theeducational aspect.

What kind of person do South Koreans and North Korean defectors what their

15) For gender differences among North Korean defectors in regard to their ability to adjust to South Koreansociety, refer to Chin (2008, 153).

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child to become? Both groups replied ‘contributor to society’, followed by ‘leaderof society’ and ‘wealthy’. The reply showed the workings of the Korean psychology,complacent in regard to realistic issues but at the same time wanting a better lifefor their children. Parents were willing to bear any socio-economic burden to allowtheir children to realize their dreams and become respected people in society (Yi,Pak, and Ha 2010, 13-15).

These results also show that Koreans maintained the idea that if dreams arenot realized, then their children need to focus on attaining wealth and status. Theanswers that ranked second and third were ‘leader of society’ and ‘wealthy’respectively, showing the double-sided mindset of both South and North Koreans,that although it seems parents want their children to attain their dreams, they alsoemphasize economic success and power. In fact, North Korean defectors wantedtheir children to achieve economic success and power more than South Koreans.It seems that they felt the importance of economic success and power morestrongly because of their lives trying to overcome their weak socio-economic statusand survive in the highly competitive South Korean society.

<Table 14> What kind of person do you want your child to become?

Both South Koreans and North Korean defectors felt that national identity(minjok) education should be given (84.4% of South Koreans, 75.3% of NorthKorean defectors). The result for ‘must be given’ was quite high – 28.9% for SouthKoreans and 40.4% for defectors. It seemed that all age groups thought nationalidentity education to be important. As for the contents of national identityeducation, South Koreans thought that ‘history (60.3%)’ and ‘folk customs andetiquette (22.6%)’ should be strengthened. In the case of North Korean defectors,’history (45.9%)’, ‘language (22.0%)’ and ‘folk customs and etiquette (22.0)% were

South Koreans

North Korean defectors

Wealthy

11.2

22.9

Famous person

1.6

11.0

Leader of society

14.8

27.5

Contributor to society

69.5

34.9

34 S/N Korean

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