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ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)
S/N Korean Humanities Vol.5 No.1 pp.137-154

Beyond Learning English: North Korean Refugee College Students’ Reflective Process on English Education

Shin Sunghee**,Kim Booyuel***
Queens College, City University of New York
KDI School of Public Policy and Management
August 25, 2018 December 4, 2018 March 1, 2019


English is one of the major factors that impede the success of North Korean refugees’ adaptation to South Korea in terms of pursuing college education and getting a job. This article attempts to illustrate North Korean refugee college students’ hopes and anxieties about learning English through a reflective process. To examine comprehensive qualitative data about their perceptions toward English education, North Korean refugee college students were invited to English classes in private institutes in South Korea. After experiencing English classes for six months, in-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-four students ranging in age from twenty-one to forty-eight. Based on Gibbs’ reflective process framework that promotes meta-thinking about their own learning experience, the refugees’ reflections on English education were categorized into the following themes: education and meaning of life, importance of post-caring, determinants of motivation for class attendance, and ambivalent view on English education. Suggestions are made from the findings regarding North Korean refugee college students’ hopes and anxieties about education in Korea and future English programs.