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Psychiatry Investig. 2008 Jun;5(2):70-7. doi: 10.4306/pi.2008.5.2.70. Epub 2008 Jun 30.

Mental health of north korean refugees in protective facilities in china.

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Korean Unification Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.



This study aims to provide alternative care plans for mental health of North Korean refugees who are in protective facilities in China.


Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) was utilized to measure the presence/absence of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among 65 North Korean refugees.


The gender differences in PAI t-scores showed that women exhibited meaningfully higher scores largely in anxiety (m=61.85), depression (m=65.23), and schizophrenia (m=60.98). In different age groups, schizophrenia in the 30 age bracket (m=65.23) was meaningfully higher than the teens (m=48.11). Aggression among the treatment features was the highest in the 20 age group (m=59.19) showing higher t-scores than the teens (m=39.67). Duration in the facility affected mental health in that the 3-5 years group (m=63.91) reported the highest in paranoia. Groups of under 1 year and less than 1-3 years showed meaningfully higher scores in nonsupport. The PTSD (including partial PTSD) rate of the group recorded 9.2%. Correlation between the PTSD and PAI scores showed that the full-PTSD group demonstrated higher average scores in negative impression, somatic complaints, anxiety, anxiety-related disorder, depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, antisocial features, suicide ideation, and treatment rejection than the non-PTSD group.


Mental health of North Korean refugees in China was worse in women, the thirties, and less than 3-5 years in the facility, and it deteriorated as the duration prolonged. To promote better psychological health of North Korean refugees in China, the attention and aid from the protection facilities and domestic and international interests are required.


Mental health; North Korean refugees in China

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