Monday, November 22, 2010

A new foundation to support North Korean defectors

With 300 North Korean refugees, lawmakers and other distinguished guests present, the South Korean Ministry of Unification launched an official support foundation for North Korean refugees in Yeouido, Seoul.

“Preparing for unification is a national task that we are all facing,” said Vice Unification Minister Um Jong-sik in a congratulatory speech. “The launch of the support foundation today is a very important turning point in our support policy for North Korean refugees.”

The foundation - which doesn’t yet have an English name but translates from the Korean as "North Korean Refugee Support Foundation" was started by the Ministry of Unification in order to better accommodate the needs of North Korean refugees after the number of those who had fled to South Korea reached more than 20,000 for the first time earlier this month. 

North Korean refugees who arrive in South Korea will receive support finding jobs and adjusting to a whole different form of society.

Kim Il-joo, chairman of the foundation, told the JoongAng Ilbo that the group would make efforts to research the current status of refugees living in the South to help adjust to their new surroundings, which has been a key problem for the South Korean government over the years.

The foundation is comprised of 57 workers with a budget of 24.8 billion won ($22 million) for next year. The foundation will start operations in January.

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