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Exit Polls: Refugee Assessments of North Korea's Transition

  • Yoonok Chang


    (Hansei University, Foreign Language Education Center, Department of Graduate Education)

  • Stephan Haggard


    (University of California, San Diego Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies)

  • Marcus Noland


    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Results from a survey of more than 1,300 North Korean refugees in China provide insight into changing economic conditions in North Korea. There is modest evidence of slightly more positive assessments among those who exited the country following the initiation of reforms in 2002. Education breeds skepticism; higher levels of education were associated with more negative perceptions of economic conditions and reform efforts. Other demographic markers such as gender or provincial origin are not robustly correlated with attitudes. Instead, personal experiences appear to be central: A significant number of the respondents were unaware of the humanitarian aid program and the ones who knew of it almost universally did not believe that they were beneficiaries. This group's evaluation of the regime, its intentions, and accomplishments is overwhelmingly negative--even more so than those of respondents who report having had experienced incarceration in political detention facilities--and attests to the powerful role that the famine experience continues to play in the political economy of the country.

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Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP08-1.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp08-1
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  1. Marcus Noland, 2004. "Famine and Reform in North Korea," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40.
  2. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2007. "North Korea’s External Economic Relations," Working Paper Series WP07-7, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  3. Marcus Noland, 2000. "Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 94.
  4. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2008. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Economics Study Area Working Papers 97, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
  5. Marcus Noland & Sherman Robinson & Tao Wang, 1999. "Famine in North Korea: Causes and Cures," Working Paper Series WP99-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  6. Marcus Noland, 2004. "Korea after Kim Jong-il," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa71.
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