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Family Migration of North Korean Defectors : With a Focus on the Phenomenon of Chain Migrations

Son, Myung-ah ] Seoul National University

Kim, Seokho ] Seoul National University


This study examines the family migration of North Korean defectors from the perspective of the sociology of immigration. Data for the analysis was collected from interviews with 10 North Korean defectors. We deal with the context of migration decision making, the migration process and aspects of settlement and assimilation in South Korea. Especially, we focus on chain migration as a mechanism for the occurrence, maintenance and expansion of family migration. By analyzing the process of escaping North Korea and their practices, this study contributes to broaden the perspectives of North Korean defectors’ experiences.

Family plays a role as social capital throughout the migration process, from the time before and after escaping from North Korea to settlement in South Korea. A family network between the family member in North Korea and the initiative migrant in South Korea is built. This relationship creates strong family bonds and causes additional migration through continuous connection and remittance. The chain migration of North Korean defector families has durability and expandability by utilizing transnational family networks.

Key Words: North Korean Defectors, Family Migration, Chain Migration,

Family Networks

Korea Journal of Population Studies 40(1), 2017.3, 57-81(25 pages)

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