Updated March. 24, 2014 01:48
The Korean government will strengthen support to North Korean defectors to help their settlement in South Korea. The decision is based on the idea that it would be one of the key preparations for unification.
A high-ranking source said on Sunday, President Park Geun-hye has stressed that helping North Korean defectors settle in our country is a critical task to laying the foundation for peaceful unification, and is greatly interested in it. President Park used to say in cabinet meetings, We should help North Korean defectors create their success story.
Accordingly, the Unification Ministry will introduce a future happiness bank account program in which the government offers matched savings to North Koran defectors and release a wide range of support measures for female defectors employment and childrearing. A government source said, Whenever they give birth to a baby, they could have additional year to the current five-year residency protection period (a period during which North Korean defectors receive government subsidies after leaving Hanawon, a facility that helps North Korean defectors settle in the South). The government is expected to offer more subsidies to help them get a job.
A government statistics obtained by the Dong-A Ilbo found that the percentage of North Korean defectors subject to government grants for low-income households was cut in half in six years from 63.5 percent in 2007 to 35 percent last year. The percentage of defectors who dropped out of school decreased from 7.1 percent in 2007 to 3.5 percent in 2013. This indicates that more defectors settle down in the South, a Unification Ministry source said. Although they are far behind their South Korean counterparts in both the percentage of low-income families receiving government subsidies (2.6 percent) and the dropout rate (1 percent), we will make our best policy efforts to narrow the gap.
The Dong-A Ilbo is introducing a series of success stories of North Korean defectors who settled down in South Korea.