The struggles of North Koreans trying to adapt to the South Korean life.
To blend into South Korean life, many women, like So Won, scramble to change their hair, their makeup, their clothing, their accents. “We want to look like ordinary South Koreans,” says So Won. Standing out as North Korean only invites prejudice. There is a widespread stereotype in South Korea that talbukcha are lazy, ignorant, prone to alcoholism, and a drain on the welfare state. North Koreans who move south are confronted by a people who are unfathomably foreign. The growing cultural and economic divides also mirror decreasing support for reunification. Older South Koreans remember a time when the two countries were one and treat peace talks with more optimism than their grandchildren. (A majority of the South Korean population viewed unification as necessary in 2017, but among those in their 20s, it’s just 38.9 percent.)