(ATTN: ADDS info in paras 6-8)
SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- The average monthly wage of North Korean defectors living in South Korea exceeded 2 million won (US$1,684) for the first time last year, the unification ministry said Tuesday.
Defectors earned 2.04 million won (US$1,720) per month on average in 2019, compared with 1.89 million won in 2018, according to a report released by the unification ministry.
It was the first time that defectors' average wages had topped the 2 million-won mark.
"The level of North Korean defectors' participation in the economy has improved continuously in the past nine years," the report said.
The monthly wage gap between North Korean defectors and South Korea-born citizens narrowed from last year.
South Korea-born citizens earned an average of 2.64 million won (US$2,220) per month last year, about 600,000 won (US$500) more than North Korean defectors, according to data compiled by Statistics Korea.
The employment rate of North Korean defectors last year was 58.2 percent, down from the previous year's 60.4 percent, behind that of South Korea-born citizens (61.4 percent).
The economic activity participation rate of North Korean defectors was 62.1 percent this year, lower than 63.3 percent of South Korea-born citizens.
Defectors' satisfaction with their quality of life in the South increased to 74.2 percent in 2019, up 1.7 percent from the previous year.
The percentage of defectors who responded that they have experienced discrimination or being ignored here slipped to 17.2 percent, down from 20.2 percent the previous year.
Currently, about 33,500 North Korean defectors are living in South Korea.
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