According to one survey, 50% of North Korean defectors described their status in the North Korea as “upper” or “middle” class, but only 26% said they fell into this category when living in South Korea.
The vast majority – 73% – described their new status as lower class.
Andrei Lankov, a historian at Kookmin University in Seoul who has also studied in Pyongyang, says the problem is that skills acquired in the North are insufficient for the modern South Korean economy. For example, doctors who defect often fail to get jobs in South Korean medicine.
In his opinion, this has implications for unification whenever (and if ever) it happens. “Can a graduate of a North Korean medical school hope to get a license in post-unification Korea if all his (or, more likely, her) medical knowledge is taken from poorly translated Soviet textbooks that are a few decades old?” he asks in a story for the NK News website.