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Findings of the 2021 Survey of Separated Families

writer
고민석
created
2021-12-09
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3938

 Findings of the 2021 Survey of Separated Families

December 9, 2021

The 2021 survey of families separated during the Korean War found that the separated family members considered “full confirmation of life or death” (65.8%) as the most pressing priority to be resolved, and that eight out of ten (82%) had yet to confirm whether their relatives in the North were still alive.

The 2021 survey, the third of its kind following those conducted in 2011 and 2016, was administered by the Ministry of Unification and the Korean Red Cross to update the application information of the registered separated family members and identify the current status of exchange between separated family members of South and North Korea and the demand for new policy. It was part of preparations for the full confirmation of the life or death of separated family members and exchange between separated family members in the future.

The survey was carried out on 47,004 people (45,850 at home and 1,154 abroad) who are still alive among those who have applied for reunions with their relatives in the North. It verified the details of the registered applicants and updated their personal information (addresses, contact numbers, and family members) as necessary, increasing the accuracy of the information that will be used for future exchange. It also asked about their intent to participate in exchange between separated family members.

Among those living in Korea who participated in the complete enumeration survey, it sampled 5,354 people proportional to gender, age and place of residence to conduct an in-depth survey on the current status of exchange between separated family members of South and North Korea and their awareness of policy.

<Update of the application details of separated family members in preparation for future exchange, inclusive of reunions>

For applicants living in Korea, by gender, there are more males (65.4%) than females (34.6%) with a gap of 30.8 percentage points. By age, those in their 80s or higher (65.6%) account for the largest number and by place of residence, the largest number of applicants (63.9%) live in the Seoul and Gyeonggi regions.

Among those living abroad, by gender, there are more males (64.3%) than females (35.7%) with a gap of 28.6 percentage points. By age, those in their 80s or higher (60.7%) represent the largest number and by place of residence, the largest number of applicants (69.1%) live in the United States.

The survey asked the applicants living in Korea about their intent to participate in exchange between separated family members. The findings showed that they are willing to participate in confirmation of the life or death of their relatives in the North (75.7%), hometown visits (69.7%), reunions (65.8%), and exchange of letters and video messages (60%).
 
For those living abroad, confirmation of life or death of their relatives in the North (86.9%) topped the list, followed by reunions (76.2%), exchange of letters and video messages (67.9%), and hometown visits (61.9%).

The findings also showed their great interest in projects to prepare for future exchange, including production of video messages (already participated: 39.5%, new applicants: 19.7%) and genetic testing (already participated: 46.4%, new applicants: 19.1%).

<Findings of the in-depth survey on the current status of exchange between separated family members and their awareness of policy>

Regarding the form of exchange, the respondents most preferred full confirmation of life or death (47.8%), followed by hometown visits (18.2%) and face-to-face reunions (16.5%).

With the Covid-19 pandemic persisting, the preferences for non-face-to-face exchange including exchange of letters and video messages and video reunions increased while the preferences for hometown visits and face-to-face reunions declined.

  ※ Change in preferences (ordinary → continued epidemic, including Covid-19)
    - Decrease: Face-to-face reunions (16.5% → 7.6%); Hometown visits (18.2% → 10.8%)
    - Increase: Phone calls (5% → 10.6%); Exchange of letters and video messages (4.4% → 9.5%); Video reunions (3.5% → 10.2%)

Regarding hometown visits, 3,525 people (82.7%) of 4,260 displaced people expressed their hope for hometown visits and 2,305 people (65.4%) wished to visit other North Korean regions, if not their hometowns.

Regarding the reasons they did not want to visit their hometowns, health problems (51.4%) topped the list, followed by the presumed deaths of their family members in the North due to advanced age (18.1%).

Regarding generational perception of exchange, 54% of the first generation of separated families responded that they wanted exchange between generations of descendants even after their passing.

Meanwhile, 91% of the second and third generations expressed their hope for exchange, indicating that they are very receptive to exchange between generations of descendants after the deaths of their parents (or grandparents).

The findings also showed that the separated family members want the government to alleviate the pain of separated families and raise public attention of the issues through collection and exhibition of photos and videos of hometowns (34.1%), production of a TV special on separated families (30.4%), and invitation events for separated families (27.3%).

Based on the findings of the third survey of separated families, the Ministry of Unification will strive to devise effective and efficient policy on the issues facing separated families by incorporating changes into policy and developing an accurate understanding of the demands of separated families. It will also do its utmost to resume exchange between separated families, inclusive of reunions, as soon as possible.