The “Southern man, Northern woman” trope gets a reworking in a discussion with a small group of former North Korean refugees, now university students aged 21-33, on their perceptions of differences in attitudes and behaviors between men and women in the North and the South.
While living in China, the men became accustomed to seeing scantily-clad women, but since their resettlement in the South, they feel awkward and find it difficult to accept the assertiveness and independence of women here. Below are few direct quotes from the students:
“North Korean women are circumspect while South Korean women tell everything and act like men” and “North Korean women care about men, but South Korean women don’t” were some of the responses.
“북한 여자들은 속으로 좀 감추고, 감싸고 해서 단아한데 남한 여자들은 할 말을 다하고 남자처럼 군다”, “북한 여자는 남자에 대한 배려가 있지만 남한 여자는 그렇지 않다”는 등의 답변도 나왔다.
According to the North Korean women, “Southern male students are attentive.”
탈북 여학생들은 “남한의 남학생들은 자상하다”는 평가가 많았다.
According to one female student, “North Korean male students dampen the spirits of women, following the precept ‘Men are exalted and women are abased’.”
한 여학생은 “북한의 남학생들은 여자를 기죽이고 남존여비 사상이 있다”
One male in his twenties reported about North Korean wives, “Before coming to the South, they accommodated the family and followed their husbands. Here they are free and do not endure any more. When North Korean women go back home, their husbands browbeat them while South Koreans show concern.
한 20대 남성 답변자는 “(부인이) 남한에 오기 전에는 가정에 순응하고 남편을 잘 따르다가 여기에 오면 자유를 얻고, 보는 게 있어서 더 이상 순순히 참지는 않는다”며 “북한 여자가 집에 들어가면 남편이 윽박지르고 하는데, 남한 사람들은 배려를 베풀어 준다.
Northern man bad, Northern woman good. Southern woman bad, Southern man good. No surprise to see the name of a male reporter, Im Ju-young, in the Yonhap byline.