Jul 7, 2011
South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In Taek. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
SEOUL - SOUTH Korea broke ground on Thursday for a second resettlement centre to help growing numbers of refugees from communist North Korea adjust to life in the capitalist South.
When completed by the end of next year the new facility in Hwacheon county, 120km north-east of Seoul, will accommodate up to 500 refugees at a time, the unification ministry said.
Unification Minister Hyun In Taek said the number of refugees to reach the South since the 1950-53 war stood at 22,000 but would soon reach 30,000-40,000.
Resettlement centres run a mandatory three-month course which covers career guidance, information on the South and basic everyday skills such as buying a subway ticket, opening a bank account and using a credit card.
The refugees are given financial and housing support upon leaving, but often hand much of their cash to professional brokers who helped them escape.
Seoul sees the refugees as 'front-runners' to work for eventual reunification. Pyongyang says the conservative South Korean government has a 'pipe dream' of absorbing it in a German-style reunification. -- AFP