Posted on Apr 10, 2012

North Korean Refugees in Seoul: Series by German photographer Nils Clauss published in ‘Kultur Korea’

Print magazine Kultur Korea is a publication by the department of cultural affairs of the Korean embassy in Berlin. It has recently unveiled its spring issue for 2012. Among its compelling features is a thought-provoking photo essay. It sheds light on the lives of North Korean refugees residing in Seoul. This essay, a collaborative effort between Nils Clauss and Neil Dowling. Together they delve into the narratives of individuals who have made the journey from North Korea to South Korea. Mostly arriving in Seoul they seek refuge and a new beginning. For those intrigued by this insightful portrayal, visit Kultur Korea or email redaktion[at] to acquire the magazine.

Exploring the Lives of North Korean Refugees

The plight of North Korean refugees living in South Korea is a subject that demands attention. With an estimated 27,000 North Koreans currently residing in the South, the demographics of these refugees have shifted over time. Initially comprising mainly government officials who defected while working abroad, the refugee population has evolved to include younger individuals from regions bordering China. These newcomers often lack formal education and skills, presenting challenges for integration into South Korean society.

Facing Challenges and Embracing Hope

While South Koreans historically felt a sense of obligation towards their North Korean neighbors, economic strains have led to a shift in public sentiment. Nevertheless, many refugees are determined to build new lives for themselves in the South, despite the risks and uncertainties. Most choose to remain anonymous, fearing repercussions for their families back in North Korea if they were to attract attention.

A Personal Perspective Through Photography

Captured firsthand by Nils Clauss in Seoul, these poignant images offer a glimpse into the resilience and perseverance of North Korean refugees. Originally featured in prominent publications such as the German newspaper “Die Zeit” and the Australian magazine “Open Manifesto,” Clauss’s photography brings to light the stories of individuals striving for a better future against all odds.

In Conclusion

The photo essay presented in Kultur Korea magazine serves as a testament to the strength and resilience of North Korean refugees in Seoul. Through the lens of Clauss their stories are brought to life. The photos and Dowling’s essay offer readers a deeper understanding of their journey and struggles. Explore this compelling narrative and gain insight into the realities faced by these courageous individuals.