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Traumatic Experiences and Mental Health of North Korean Refugees in South Korea

 Woo-Teak Jeon  ;  Shi-Eun Yu  ;  Young-A Cho  ;  Jin-Sup Eom 
 PSYCHIATRY INVESTIGATION, Vol.5(4) : 213-220, 2008 
Journal Title
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Mental health ; North Korean defector ; North Korean refugee ; Personality Assessment Inventory ; Traumatic experience
OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted at Hanawon-a government sponsored educational facility for the settlement of North Korean refugees during their initial phase in South Korea-in 2004 to explore their mental health status and traumatic experiences in North Korea and during their escape period. METHODS: A survey was conducted in November 2004 with 62 North Korean refugees at Hanawon, and the Trauma Checklist was used to measure their traumatic experiences. To measure their psychological-mental health status, the Personality Assessment Inventory was administered. RESULTS: In comparison with the traumatic experiences of the North Korean refugees found in the study conducted in 2001 at Hanawon using the same methods, the current study showed a relatively lower frequency of traumatic experiences among the participants. The Personality Assessment Inventory results revealed that the study participants scored higher than average South Koreans in all clinical scales. Particularly, their mania (62.51) and schizophrenia (61.75) scores were above 60, a clinically meaningful score. In the gender comparison, the males exhibited meaningfully higher levels of alcohol problem, non-support, and warmth scale scores. CONCLUSION: Compared to the 2001 study, the overall traumatic experiences among North Korean refugees participated in this study. But continous support is necessary for their successful adaptation to South Korean Society have declined. The North Korean refugees at Hanawon experienced difficulties maintaining their mental health and the men in particular requested more intensive care and support for this purpose.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Medical Education (의학교육학과) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Jeon, Woo Taek(전우택) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9213-6057
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