North defector to run for GNP
Yoon Seung-gil, a 39-year-old North Korean who defected to South Korea eight years ago, registered with the National Election Commission Wednesday as a candidate for the April legislative elections.
Yoon is the first North Korean defector to run for a seat in South Korea’s legislature in the country’s history.
The defector hopes to run as a candidate of the conservative Grand National Party in Seoul’s southwestern ward of Gangseo, where he resides. He said he hopes to represent the interests of all North Korean defectors in the South.
“I decided to run in the elections to increase public awareness of the need to prepare for Korean reunification,” Yoon told Yonhap News Agency. “I think it’s natural for us to have more than one lawmaker to represent North Korean defectors because they are so important for reunification,” he said.
The number of North Koreans who have sought asylum in South Korea is 11,696, according to the Unification Ministry. A defector can obtain a full South Korean citizenship when he or she finishes about two months of education courses at the Hanawon resettlement facility in Anseong, 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) south of Seoul.
Yoon still needs to pay 15 million won ($15,910) to complete his registration and receive the GNP’s nomination to become a formal candidate.
“I plan to raise the money from North Korean defectors who support me,” said Yoon, who now makes a living providing consulting service to South Koreans wanting to run North Korean restaurants.
He entered South Korea in October 2000, eight months after escaping the North alone in search of political freedom. He had lived in Onseong, North Hamgyong Province, for more than 30 years. He’d originally lived in Pyongyang as a child with his parents, but they were forced to leave because the communist regime condemned his family background. Yonhap
By Ko Jong-kwan JoongAng Ilbo