KIC Research in Brief

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KIC Research in Brief

Legal Knowledge of North Korean Defectors on Crime and Victimization



I. North Korean defectors generally have lower level of legal knowledge on crime and victimization, compared to the general population

1) They lack basic legal knowledge on the criminal justice system and their areas of the weakest knowledge are the right to counsel, differences between criminal and civil litigation and between prisons and jails, and cybercrimes. 

2) They have a markedly low level of knowledge on battery and domestic and sexual violence, compared to the general population.

3) More than half of the surveyed defectors scored similarly on the number of questions related to theft and drug-related crimes compared to the general population.

4) The surveyed defectors scored significantly well on the number of questions related to insurance theft and the reason for the higher scores seemed that they have experienced or been exposed to the same or similar crimes before.


II. Strengthening legal education to North Korean defectors for helping their settlement

1) There is the need for local settlement support centers to provide additional legal education.

2) Updating the curriculum of legal education is required to fill the weak areas of legal knowledge of the defectors.

- Although the defectors, on average, have relatively high level of legal knowledge, they have some weak areas of knowledge. The areas are legal knowledge on the right of freedom, basic knowledge on the criminal justice system, and knowledge on crime and victimization.



III. Problems identified in legal education to North Korean defectors and steps for solving them

1) Strengthening legal knowledge as part of local settlement support is necessary.

- The initial education provided to the defectors upon entering South Korea at the Hanawon Center suffers from anxiety and unstable emotional states of defectors and lack educational impacts.

- It is necessary to provide legal education near the defectors’ places of residence and its curriculum should be tailored to the needs of the defectors.


IV. Steps for improving legal education and its curriculum

- Legal education should aim to fill the defectors’ weak areas of legal knowledge and utilize new and innovative technologies to increase the channels of obtaining knowledge.