Nov. 24 (UPI) -- North Korean defectors are facing difficulties adjusting to life in the South, with more people emigrating to the West, according to a South Korean press report.
Seoul Economic Daily reported Tuesday a handful of defectors out of a total population of 33,718 either are moving to third countries or choosing to return to the North, where penalties await citizens who leave without state permission.
North Korea repatriation is rare in the South, but according to the unification ministry about half of the 55 South Korean citizens confirmed to have left for the North in the past 10 years were defectors.
Seoul has also been unable to confirm the whereabouts of about 900 North Koreans who resettled in the country.
A defector who goes by the pseudonym Kim Gwang-hoon is one of several North Korean refugees who resettled in the South with hopes of a better life.
Kim, who sold used bicycles in North Korea, worked as a used car dealer in the South. Kim went into debt while battling lawsuits after an unscrupulous business partner allegedly delivered imported used cars with defects. After seven years in the South, Kim left the country, according to the report.
Other defectors profiled indicate North Koreans in the South struggle to find suitable jobs.
Seung Cheol Choi, a defector who graduated from North Korea's elite Kim Il Sung University, said service jobs like pizza delivery in the South were not for him.
The lack of opportunities for Choi, who said he was a medical doctor in North Korea, forced him to rethink his sense of belonging in the South. Choi immigrated to Britain in 2008, according to the report.
Other defectors have found a place in South Korean society. Ji Seong-ho, a refugee who lost an arm and a leg in North Korea during a train accident, and Thae Yong-ho, a former senior diplomat for Pyongyang, both serve in South Korea's parliament, where they often warn the government against too-friendly ties with Pyongyang.
South Korea has not stopped making phone calls to the North following the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in June, Hankook Ilbo reported Tuesday.
The South Korean phone calls to the North so far have gone unanswered, according to the report.