Understanding social exclusion and psychosocial adjustment of North Korean adolescents and young adult refugees in South Korea through Photovoice

Min Ah Kim, Jun Sung Hong, Miyoung Ra, Kihyun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing number of North Korean refugees residing in South Korea face significant challenges in cultural adjustment. However, psychosocial adjustment of North Korean young refugees is not fully understood. To address this research gap, this study explores the life experiences of 10 North Korean adolescent and young adult refugees who resettled in South Korea. Using Photovoice as a participatory research tool consisting of individual interviews, group discussions, and visual representations, six major themes emerged: friends, what we have lost, the world we live in, culture, life goals, and values. Participants reported experiencing social exclusion and peer discrimination as barriers to successful adjustment in South Korea. They also defined their new homeland as a place where competition, material wealth, and social status are highly valued, while traditional values and nature are shunned. Despite these barriers, all of the participants have made efforts to adapt to their new homeland and create new life goals with support from the group home where the participants resided in South Korea. Recognizing and understanding complex issues related to psychosocial adjustments of these refugees can inform the development of culturally relevant psychosocial interventions that foster a sense of belonging and promote coping mechanisms for these young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-841
Number of pages22
JournalQualitative Social Work
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • North Korea
  • psychosocial adjustments
  • social exclusion

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