Methods: Five 80-minute focus group interviews were conducted in August 2016: two groups of NKRs aged 20-24 and three groups of NKRs aged 25-39. Each group consisted of 8 NKRs who possessed a smartphone (n=40). A semi-structured interview guide was used to ask participants the potential utility of a smartphone app platform, types of necessary contents in the app, and preferred features of the app. Participants were recruited by snowball sampling until saturation of themes was reached. Focus group interviews were transcribed and translated. Three trained researchers performed thematic coding and analyses in Dedoose.
Results: Participants were positive about the potential utility of a smartphone app as an effective tool to assist their sociocultural adaptation. Four major themes related to content needs emerged: cultural consensus, educational contents, provision of information, and networking needs. Needs for contents varied between the two age groups. Participants aged 20-24 indicated their needs in relation to college, leisure, and item exchange, whereas those aged 25-39 indicated housing, finances, and NKRs’ benefits. Some commonalities were identified, such as linguistic and networking needs. Themes related to preferred features were identity protection, easy-to-navigate interface, and interaction with other users. Specifically, participants expressed their desire for dictionaries and games to meet linguistic needs, video lectures to fulfill educational needs, and chatting rooms for networking. Across themes, responses pertained to three overarching domains: acculturation, socialization, and identity. These domains describe the way in which any given app feature will support the person’s sociocultural adaptation.
Conclusions and Implications: This study indicates that NKRs are interested in a smartphone app as a tool to aid in their sociocultural adaptation to South Korea. Focus groups created an interactive environment that encouraged the explication of needs and desires, and a safe space to share experiences. Findings highlight the demand for several aspects in a smartphone app across three domains: acculturation, socialization, and identity. Overall, results suggest many areas of utility for a smartphone app for NKRs as well as how the app should function and be advertised to NKRs. Furthermore, these findings may inform the development or updating of smartphone apps tailored for other refugee populations.