Thursday, June 23, 2011

South Korea building new refugee center for North Koreans

South Korea is building a new facility to house North Korean defectors arriving in the country.

Most defectors - who include economic migrants and political refugees - spend their first three months in a government center known as Hanawon. They are taught the skills they need in a capitalist country - such as how to work cash machines, or get a job.

The government has already extended the time that new arrivals must spend in the facility from two months to three. The current facility has already been expanded, and now holds 1,000 people. The new centre will have room for 500 more.

Seoul says almost 3,000 North Koreans arrive each year and the current center is danger of becoming overcrowded.

According to the Unification Ministry, it will offer retraining programs for new arrivals, to help North Koreans compete for jobs. Fewer than half of all North Koreans find work in the South - and many who do end up in menial low-paid jobs.

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