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ADAPTING TO DEMOCRACY: IDENTITY AND THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS

  • Aram Hur
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.
Abstract

Defection from North Korea to South Korea has increased dramatically, but little is known of its political consequences. Do North Korean defectors successfully adopt democratic norms, and if so, what factors aid this process? Through a novel survey of defectors, I find that national identification plays a significant role in motivating their fledgling sense of democratic obligation. Greater feelings of national unity with South Koreans lead to a stronger duty to vote and otherwise contribute to the democratic state. This effect is more powerful than that of conventional contractual factors, on which most state resettlement policies are based, and is surprising given that defectors’ nationalist socialization mostly took place under the authoritarian North. The findings suggest the need to reconsider integration approaches toward North Korean defectors and similarly placed refugees elsewhere.

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Journal of East Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 1598-2408
  • EISSN: 2234-6643
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