North Koreans shorter than South Koreans due to malnutrition

The biggest hurdle for many North Korean refugees trying to assimilate into South Korean society was not just that they faced a language barrier but that, quite simply, they also looked different. First, they are shorter.

According to UNICEF, because of malnutrition, by the age of 7 there’s already a 4.7-inch gap in height between North Korean and South Korean children — and that difference may reach 7.8 inches.

Another sign is malnutrition. Many young refugees from North Korea have heads that appeared to be slightly oversize on their frames. It was hard to notice, until they are standing next to a South Korean their age — or unless you are South Korean.

”We live under the myth of homogeneity, of oneness here in Korea,” Byung-ho Chung, an anthropologist, told me, ”but these kinds of distinctive physical markings are a scar. The fear is that the scar will become a social stigma affecting many generations to come.”

–Excerpt of an article by Michael Paterniti, GQ magazine