An increasing number of North Korean defectors who are unable to settle down in the South move to third countries. According to a U.S. government report in June last year, the number of North Korean defectors who entered the United States increased from 27 in 2006 to 48 in 2007. Between 2006 and 2009, 665 defectors from the North entered the U.K. to ask for asylum, and 217 sought residence in Canada between 2000 and 2009.
A considerable number of such North Korean defectors who have applied for asylum in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere failed to adapt to life in the South, defector support organizations say.
But they often find it difficult to adapt to life in third countries as well, starting with the language barrier. "Life in Canada isn't easy either," said a 48-year-old North Korean who defected to the South in 2008 and now lives in Canada. "Most North Koreans who have come to Canada regret the step." One 36-year-old North Korean who came to the South in January 2004 and left for the U.K. in 2007 returned to the South early last year, admitting that his attempts to settle there failed.
One 45-year-old North Korean who defected to the South in 2003 even returned to the North in 2007. A factory manager in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, he failed to cope with life in the South and is said to have asked for a pardon after donating to the regime all the money he earned in the South.