The British Embassy in Seoul has been running a free English language program for North Korean defectors since June last year. Among the 10 students on the year-long pilot program is a 30-year-old student who gives his name as Kim and defected from the North's Ryanggang Province in 2005.
"I never learned English in the North, but it's a prerequisite to get a job and settle down in South Korea. I worried a lot about my English skills, but I now have confidence thanks to the British Embassy's help."
This year, the embassy rolls out the "English for the Future" program in cooperation with the Unification Ministry, the Pony Chung Foundation, the Asan Foundation, LG Corporation, and Korea Investment and Securities.
Students will also be given an opportunity of a three-month internship in one of the 11 sponsor organizations and study in the U.K. on a scholarship.
Forty-seven defectors in their 20s and 30s, who have neither jobs nor any English language ability, have been chosen this year for the program.
"I was admitted to the Chinese Language Department at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies this year," said one of them who gave his name as Lee (32). "I worried a lot because I never studied English before, and I believe this program will be of great help to me."
Ambassador Martin Uden said, "We know that English language skills can be a real barrier for recent arrivals from North Korea who strive for the good jobs and higher education opportunities that South Korea has to offer. That's why we have decided to launch this program."