North Korean Refugee Integration Policy in South Korea: Human Security Challenges

Eunkoo Lee, Brendan Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Republic of Korea (ROK) aspires to recognition as a normative power, abiding by international humanitarian conventions, acting as a norm entrepreneur, and standing as a shining normative light on a hill. Its treatment of refugees, and in particular North Korean refugees, represents an important benchmark for achievement of these aspirations. South Korea offers extensive constitutional protection and recognition to North Korean refugees, as well as significant material support for their successful integration into society. In practice, however, there remain many integration challenges for North Korean refugees and the government agencies dealing with them. This article, therefore, first examines the protection of the human security of North Korean refugees under international and domestic humanitarian legislation. It secondly addresses the ongoing integrational challenges faced by North Korean refugees in South Korea. Third, it offers implications and policy prescription for authorities dealing with these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-90
Number of pages26
JournalAsian International Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • North Korean refugees
  • South Korean governance
  • challenges
  • human security
  • integration


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