South Korea

map of South Korea

We are assisting the psychosocial rehabilitation of North Korean refugees in South Korea via non-verbal therapy training for professionals.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have attempted to flee their homeland. Most cross into China, where they live in perpetual fear of being discovered and repatriated. The path to their southern neighbor is even more dangerous, with only about 25,000 having succeeded in 60 years.


Population (SK)
Life Expectancy (SK)
Population (NK)
Life Expectancy (NK)
NK Refugee Population in SK
NK Refugee Incidence of Trauma

IsraAID and South Korea

Our first team arrived in South Korea in November 2012 to perform a needs assessment of the situation of North Korean refugees now living in the South. Based on meetings with goverment agencies and organizations, it became clear that the psychological scarring of a large majority of the new citizens is so severe that it has significantly handicapped their integration into society, and even for some, severely impedes their day-to-day life. The first training workshop took place in February 2013.

Our Projects


Rehabilitation to the South

Life story interview training for social workers

In February 2013, we launched a capacity-building program to support the efforts of current government social workers as they attempt to facilitate the North Korean Defectors' recovery. The training is focused on life story interviewing techniques and is being headed by Prof. Amia Lieblich - a world known expert in oral history. In addition, as part of our aim for long-term impact and sustainability, our program in South Korea includes M.A. and Ph.D. students from Yonsei University.


  • Building a network of local health professionals between government and non-government agencies
  • Trauma training intervention and psychosocial support


  • Trained 20 professionals from Yonsei University, non-profits, and government psychologists