N. Korean defectors work more, earn less: poll

February 9, 2015
North Korean workers planting seedlings on a field in Jaeryong, South Hwanghae Province, on Jan. 24, 2015. (KCNA/Yonhap)

North Korean workers planting seedlings on a field in Jaeryong, South Hwanghae Province, on Jan. 24, 2015. (KCNA/Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korean defectors here are paid far less than South Koreans, while they work longer on average, a government poll showed Monday.

North Korean refugees’ monthly income increased to 1.47 million won (US$1,337) in 2014 from 1.41 million won (US$1,285) a year earlier, but it is still just 66 percent of the 2.23 million won (US$2,033) earned by South Koreans a month on average, according to the survey by the state-funded Korea Hana Foundation.

The foundation conducted the three-month-long poll on 12,777 North Korean defectors, aged 15 and older, from July last year. The unification ministry supported the annual survey.

North Korean defectors, many who perform physically demanding labor, work 47 hours a week, three hours more than South Koreans.

Their unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in 2014 from 9.7 percent in the previous year.

And 67.6 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with their life in the South.

Many of them, however, were found to suffer from mental health problems, largely due to economic troubles, diseases and loneliness. More than 20 percent of the respondents said they had suicidal impulses, the foundation said.

A total of 27,518 North Koreans defected to the South as of the end of 2014, 1,396 in the year alone, according to the unification ministry’s official tally.

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