Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) The Effect of Interpersonal Relationships on Academic Stress and School Adjustment Among North Korean Refugee Youth in South Korea (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

51P (WITHDRAWN) The Effect of Interpersonal Relationships on Academic Stress and School Adjustment Among North Korean Refugee Youth in South Korea

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Hee Jin Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, Myongji University, Korea, Republic of (South)
Daejun Park, MSW, Ph.D. Student, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Sejung Yang, MSW, Doctoral Student, New York University, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: With the increased number of North Korean refugees settling down in South Korea, a growing body of research has begun to examine their adjustment in the South Korea. Nevertheless, relatively less attention has been paid to North Korean refugee adolescents, compared to North Korean refugee adults. The literature reviewed earlier has highlighted the dropout rate of North Korean youth is pretty higher than that of the South Korean youth. Also, North Korean refugee students may encounter a wide range of issues to adjust to the South Korean school system. Numerous studies examined that students’ positive relationships with teacher and peer have positive effects on the school-related factors. In this regard, the current study aimed to explore the effect of interpersonal relationships (IRs) on two important factors relating school life—academic stress and school adjustment.

Methods: The data are driven from a survey conducted in 2017. We interviewed 610 youth (youth from South Korea = 325, youth from North Korea = 285) living in South Korea from juniors in middle schools to seniors in high schools. Dependent variables used in the current study are academic stress and school adjustment. We used Korean academic stress scale (Bak & Park, 2012) and the Korean school adjustment scale (Min, 1991) to measure the level of academic stress and school adjustment, respectively. Interpersonal relations, which is used as a moderator, consists of relationships with teachers and peers. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were carried out to test the main effect of the interpersonal relationships and interactional effects, combining interpersonal relationships and place of origin, on adolescent school life.

Results: The outcomes revealed that the interpersonal relationships were not significant for academic stress (B = -.036, p = .607), however, it was a significant predictor of school adjustment (B = .508, p < .001). Also, we found that the interaction between interpersonal relationships and the origin of country was statistically significant for both academic stress and school adjustment (B = -.361, p < 0.001 and B= -.214, p < 0.01, respectively).

Conclusions and Implications: The findings suggest the importance of interpersonal relationships to improve adolescents’ school adjustment. Also, the interaction shows that the effect of interpersonal relationships is greater in magnitude for North Korean refugees than for South Korean adolescents; the higher interpersonal relationships among North Korean students is likely to reduce the academic stress and the school adjustment, compared to those of South Korean counter partners. The findings imply culturally sensitive social work practice and education programs.