International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 175–182 | Cite as

Social inclusion and length of stay as determinants of health among North Korean refugees in South Korea

  • Kunhee Park
  • Youngtae ChoEmail author
  • In-Jin Yoon
Original article



Although the number of North Koreans seeking asylum in South Korea has increased notably in recent years, studies on the health of North Koreans residing in South Korea are rare. This study examined the roles of social inclusion and the length of stay on refugees’ self-rated health.


Employing a data set (n = 1,111) created by the South Korean government, we conduct multivariate logistic regression analyses.


We found that degree of familiarity with South Koreans, employed as an indicator of social inclusion, was significantly associated with North Korean refugees’ self-rated health status. Further, self-rated health seemed to be poorest when the duration of stay in South Korea reached about 2–4 years. Self-rated health outcomes improved after this time period.


Social inclusion through close contacts with South Koreans and overcoming an arduous adaptation period, as well as addressing economic deprivation, are important in promoting the health of North Korean refugees in South Korea. These findings should be considered in crafting better resettlement and training programs for this population.


North Korean refugees Refugee health Social inclusion Adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Institute of Health Policy and Management, Medical Research CenterSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  3. 3.Institute of Health and EnvironmentSeoul National UniversityJongroku, SeoulKorea
  4. 4.Population Research CenterThe University of TexasAustinUSA
  5. 5.Department of SociologyKorea UniversitySeoulKorea

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