J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  2012 Nov;51(6):445-457.

Psychiatric Disorders of North Korean Defectors in South Korea : Four Case Report

Affiliations
  • 1Seoul Metropolitan Eunpyeong Hospital, Seoul, Korea. skmin518@huhs.ac

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
Cases of psychiatric disorders are reported with a review of literature on mental health problems in North Korean defectors in South Korea.
METHODS
Four patients who were admitted to a psychiatric hospital with major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, or mixed disorder of conduct and emotions of adolescent were studied.
RESULTS
The most common precipitating factor was the separation from close persons they had been dependent on. Defector-specific stress included unfamiliar culture of South Korea, lack of ability to adapt to South Korean society, uselessness of past education and professional skills, stress with regard to being identified or discriminated as a North Korean defector, and guilt feeling for leaving their family behind in North Korea. North Korean defector-specific clinical findings were noted; these included reluctance to expose themselves as North Koreans, negative emotional reaction to discrimination of South Korean neighbors, submissive and passive attitude, loneliness, anxiety for the future related to refugee status, and strong stigma related to psychiatry.
CONCLUSION
This case report suggests that an individualized or tailored treatment that considers their unique psychosocial situation, which especially focuses on discrimination and social support, is needed for North Korean defectors with mental disorders.

Keyword

North Korean defectors; Mental disorder; Schizophrenia; Major depression; Bipolar disorder; Conduct disorder

MeSH Terms

Adolescent
Anxiety
Bipolar Disorder
Conduct Disorder
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Depression
Discrimination (Psychology)
Guilt
Hospitals, Psychiatric
Humans
Loneliness
Mental Disorders
Mental Health
Mood Disorders
Precipitating Factors
Refugees
Republic of Korea
Schizophrenia
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