Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Acculturation Process of North Korean Refugee Women to the South Korean Society: Test of the Multidimensional Individual Difference Acculturation (MIDA) Model (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

653P (see Poster Gallery) Acculturation Process of North Korean Refugee Women to the South Korean Society: Test of the Multidimensional Individual Difference Acculturation (MIDA) Model

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Boyoung Nam, PhD, Assistant Professor, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Sangyoon Han, MSW, MA, Student (Doctoral), Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Ijun Hong, Student, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Background/Purpose: North Korean (NK) refugee women strive to survive in the South Korean (SK) society, the host society. However, their acculturation attitudes and outcomes are different. Some of them successfully adapt to the SK society while maintaining their NK identity, but others either deny their NK identity and assimilate to or separate from the SK society. According to the Multidimensional Individual Difference Acculturation (MIDA) model, psychological strength, co-national connectedness, and hassles (irritants encountered in daily life) are predictors of immigrants’ acculturation outcomes (e.g., maladaptation and depression). Acculturation strategy proposed by Berry (i.e., integration, assimilation, and separation) mediates such relationships. Although the MIDA model has been widely tested with many refugee populations, its applicability to NK refugee women has not been tested. Thus, this study is the first to apply the MIDA model to NK refugee women and examine the acculturation process.

Methods: This study analyzed data from a snowball sample of 212 adult NK refugee women (M = 44.93, SD = 10.79) living in South Korea. Three predictors of the MIDA model were operationalized with out-group social support (for psychological strength), attachment to NK culture (for co-national connectedness), and experience of racism (for hassles). The mediator were three acculturation strategies (integration, assimilation, separation). Two adaptation outcomes (maladaptation to host society, depression) were included as endogenous variables in the model. The Structural Equation Modeling with bootstrap sampling was conducted to test the mediation model. Measurement and structural model fit indices were evaluated.

Results: Results indicated that out-group social support is positively associated with integration (=.54, p<.001) and assimilation (=.34, p<.001). Second, attachment to NK culture is negatively associated with assimilation (=-.45, p<.001), but positively associated with separation (=.63, p<.001). Third, daily life experience of the racism is positively associated with assimilation (=.16, p<.05). Fourth, integration is negatively associated with maladaptation to host society (=-.44, p<.001) and depression (=-.37, p<.001). Fifth, assimilation is positively associated with depression (=.20, p<.05). Finally, separation is positively associated with maladaptation (=.25, p<.01) and depression (=.22, p<.05). To summarize, assimilation and separation strategy increased depression or maladaptation whereas integration promoted positive acculturation outcomes. Out-group social support and attachment to NK culture were the key predictors in this process.

Conclusion/Implications: Findings of this study showed that NK refugee women develop different acculturation strategies and outcomes. As expected, integration led to positive acculturation outcomes. On the contrary, assimilation and separation result in negative outcomes such as depression and maladaptation. The interesting finding to note was NK refugee women’s attachment to NK culture. Even though NK refugee women’s attitude toward NK culture resulted in different acculturation strategies (either assimilation to or separation from the SK society), acculturation outcomes of both strategies were negative. Thus, we need programs for refugee women who are held back to NK culture and hesitate to explore SK culture. Programs to build out-group social support for NK refugee women can be also helpful. At the same time, we need to create an environment where refugees and their cultural background can be valued and respected.