Efforts to FACILITATE the ASSIMILATION of North Korean defectors into the South Korean society is a challenging initiative and the facility in charge of that task has pledged to do more to ensure broader employment opportunities.
HAN SEONG-WOO reports.
The doors to a completely new life in South Korea after fleeing the Kim regime. Located around 80 kilometers south of Seoul in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do Province, is the Hanawon Settlement Support Center for North Korean Refugees.
Managed by the Ministry of Unification, the facility's staffed with experts who, for three months, help defectors both socially and culturally acclimate themselves to South Korea's capitalist democracy.
The defectors have access to medical care and various forms of job training, including computer lessons at the resettlement center while their children can begin a proper South Korean education.
Friday was its 23rd opening anniversary ceremony, and among dignitaries present for the event were ruling People Power Party lawmakers Kim Hak-yong and Ji Sung-ho, a Hanawon graduate himself as well as the Minister of Unification, Kwon Young-se.
In his commemorative speech, Kwon called North Korean defectors precursors to unification and stressed how important it is for the government to make life in South Korea easier for them.
"So far, around 30,000 defectors have taken the courageous first step into South Korean society through this place: the Hanawon Moving forward, we must nurture more and more people from North Korea, not just Mr. Ji, into respected, South Korean leaders like Angela Merkel from East Germany and the United States' Barack Obama, whose father was a foreigner, became in their own countries."
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Prior to the ceremony, a Unification Ministry official acknowledged that much remains to be done.
Career diversity among Hanawon graduates is not ideal with many working simple jobs in the service sector.
Their turnover rate is reportedly quite high as well
an issue the South Korean government will have to address with a long-term plan moving forward.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.