Spare time, freedom of movement, and simply being able to choose.

They may sound like everyday things most of us take for granted.

For North Korean defectors these simple pleasures represent a whole new ball game especially when most don't even know the meaning of the words, said news.com.au.

"When I first moved to South Korea, I had spare time, I didn't know what to do with it" James said. We never had that in North Korea."

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James is one of five students who are studying English in Sydney as part of a scholarship program aimed specifically at former North Koreans.

The five were selected to study English as part of the UTS: INSEARCH program which runs for 30 weeks.

News.com.au has not identified the students or used their real names for security reasons.

Most of the group who now call South Korea home left as children, some as teenagers, but all have things they miss.

James is the first to admit he doesn't miss the day to day life in North Korea, but he does long to see friends and family he left behind.

He also found it difficult adjusting to life in to South Korean society.

James said most students not only study during the day, but also take up extra tutorial in the evenings just to get ahead.

"I found it difficult to identify," he said.

"In North Korea most communication is face-to-face, in South Korea it's done over the internet."

While life in Seoul sounds like heaven compared to life under a brutal dictator, the students know first hand, life isn't all sweet and rosy on the other side.

The group not only found discrimination in the competitive South Korean world, but also faced the challenge of having to catch up on years of education.

Enormous difficulties adjusting to their lives in the south including how to use the internet and things like using the train service or topping up a travel card.

Christians pray during a service for peace on the Korean Peninsula near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / AP
Christians pray during a service for peace on the Korean Peninsula near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / AP

These simple life skills are all learned during a three-month stay at the Hana Foundation, a defector mentoring program.

Another student Chloe wants to be an advertising manager and needs English for that to happen.

While most South Koreans already learn or are engaged in advanced English studies, it is rare for North Koreans to understand English, as they are told what they will learn at university or what career they will undertake.

Chloe said while school was supposedly free in her homeland, many people bribed teachers for extra tutoring or to learn what they wanted.

She said her memories of North Korea were mostly happy but her mother's decision to escape was based on wanting a better life for them.

For Jenna, the one thing she misses most is the grandmother who raised her following the death of her father and the defection of her mother.

She knows she is unlikely to ever see her grandmother again.

"I really miss my grandmother," Jenna said, admitting she found aspects of life on the south side of the 28th parallel hard.

"South Korea has many academies and people study all the time."

Jenna has dreams of working in the Hana Foundation so she can give back and also help other defectors like herself.

NEW CHANCES

Associate Professor Bronwen Dalton, from the University of Technology, Sydney, was one of the people instrumental in getting the scholarship program off the ground.

"Australia and Korea have a lot in common," she said.

"Both have vibrant democracies and there's a lot of reasons the countries are friends."

Prof Dalton said there are around 30,000 defectors living in South Korea, which offered generous resettlement programs to them.

However many North Koreans faced discrimination and were stuck in poverty unable to get better qualifications or a job due to the highly competitive education and job markets.

People fill the square of the main railway station to watch a televised broadcast of the test-fire of an inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in Pyongyang. Photo / AP
People fill the square of the main railway station to watch a televised broadcast of the test-fire of an inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in Pyongyang. Photo / AP

English was just one of the minimum requirements needed to succeed.

Prof Dalton said the idea behind the program was not only to help defectors succeed but to ensure poverty didn't become generational.

She said defectors fled a cruel regime yet some South Koreans saw their northern neighbours as a burden.

"They are not seen as working as hard or they are not as refined or can't be trusted," she said.