December 03, 2023

Why South Korea treats North Korean defectors differently to other refugees

Ethnic nationalism, culture likely major reasons

A year on from the sudden arrival of some 500 Yemeni refugees on the resort island of Jeju, it is worth asking why non-North Korean refugees are generally not as accepted in South Korea.

What does South Korea’s failure to provide moral leadership in the face of a global refugee crisis tell us about entrenched ideologies of ethnic nationalism in one of the region’s wealthiest liberal democratic states?