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.