July 11, 2023 08:16
The Unification Ministry on Monday celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Hanawon halfway house that helps North Korean defectors settle in the South.
New Unification Minister Kwon Young-se attended the celebration in Anseong, southeast of Seoul and stressed the importance of creating a social environment where defectors can blend in more easily.
Hanawon provides a 12-week resettlement education program for new defectors from North Korea. It helps them change their identity, adapt to South Korean society, and supports them financially so that they can learn to make a living here.
But the number of defectors dropped significantly from around 3,000 in 2010 to just 67 in 2022 as the North Korean regime fortified its borders in the COVID pandemic.
To mark the anniversary, reporters were admitted Hanawon for the first time in seven years and interviewed three North Korean defectors.
Defectors say the institute is important to them as the training that they received there has given them the opportunity to think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
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