Monday, October 25, 2010

Hanawon after North South Korean unification

Hanawon is a state-run settlement support center that teaches North Korean refugees how to start their new lives in South Korea. Following is an excerpt of an interview with Hanawon’s Director General, Youn Mi-ryang, on projections should North and South Korea reunite, as did East and West Germany:

Hanawon is not supposed to last forever, but as we saw in the case of Germany’s unification, it will be required to play a role for some time after unification. Even in Germany, 20 years after unification, people from the two Germanies are still psychologically different. Hanawon, I think, will have to fulfill the role of providing “integration education” for leaders from both sides of the Korean Peninsula. In particular, Hanawon will focus on being a key education organization for young North Korean leaders.

A second facility that we plan to build by 2012 will be a facility where intellectuals from the North are educated. College graduates who used to be teachers, doctors and ranking officials within the Workers’ Party are coming to the South, but the Hanawon education is insufficient for them to take advantage of their knowledge. North Korean doctors, for instance, have difficulty practicing medicine here. We are currently giving them qualifications to take the national examination to become a doctor.

There are some reasons why our current curriculum has to be "theoretical". Many defectors believe that South Korea is a U.S. colony and that the Korean War was started by South Korea. They had also been educated to idolize Kim Il Sung’s family, and we need to correct it. South Korean history and language ... these are indispensable for them to learn. Teaching those subjects only requires about 150 hours. 

Out of the 420-hour Hanawon curriculum, 180 hours are reserved for activities outside of Hanawon, including a tour of Seoul. They ride the subway and visit colleges as part of job training.

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