Journal List > J Korean Acad Nurs > v.50(1) > 1143145

J Korean Acad Nurs. 2020 Feb;50(1):39-51. Korean.
Published online Feb 28, 2020.
© 2020 Korean Society of Nursing Science
Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study on the Experiences of Employment of Married North Korean Women Defectors Rearing Children
Hyun Mee Cho,1,2 and Eun Joung Choi2
1Department of Nursing, Kosin University Gospel Hospital, Busan, Korea.
2College of Nursing, Kosin University, Busan, Korea.

Address reprint requests to: Choi, Eun Joung. College of Nursing, Kosin University, 262 Gamcheon-ro, Seo-gu, Busan 49267, Korea. Tel: +82-51-990-3977, Fax: +82-51-990-3970, Email:
Received Mar 21, 2019; Revised Nov 18, 2019; Accepted Jan 19, 2020.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs License. ( If the original work is properly cited and retained without any modification or reproduction, it can be used and re-distributed in any format and medium.



This study aimed to understand the experiences of married North Korean women's child-rearing, working lives, and their home and work environment in depth.


This study adopted van Manen's hermeneutic phenomenological method to qualitatively analyze data. The participants were 8 married North Korean women defectors. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and observations from July 4 to August 20, 2018.


Nine essential themes emerged: more personal challenges after overcoming a life-threatening crisis; hopes of firmly settling in this land; the wound from the north, which chased them here; a body that becomes stronger through hardship; being stuck in a past full of anxiety and pain; the present is full of hope; hope for the future; sense of alienation from coworkers that cannot be overcome; and sense of power to endure an exhausting work life.


This study provided a broader understanding of the life and experiences of married women from North Korea. It highlights the need for nurses to recognize their importance in nursing care. The study also suggests that academic and practical approaches for nursing, and basic data for a nursing intervention for married women from North Korea be provided. The study findings can be used as a basis for preparing a national policy that will help North Korean defectors to find employment and gain stability.

Keywords: Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Women; Employment; Qualitative Research


Table 1
Participants' Characteristics
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Table 2
The Experiences of Employment of Married North Korean Women Defectors Rearing Children
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This manuscript is a condensed form of the first author's doctoral dissertation from Kosin University.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:The authors declared no conflict of interest.


  • Conceptualization or/and Methodology: Cho HM.

  • Data curation or/and Analysis: Cho HM.

  • Funding acquisition: Cho HM.

  • Investigation: Cho HM.

  • Project administration or/and Supervision: Choi EJ.

  • Resources or/and Software: Cho HM.

  • Validation: Cho HM.

  • Visualization: Cho HM.

  • Writing original draft or/and Review & editing: Cho HM.

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