[EDITORIALS]Resolving defectors’ woes

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[EDITORIALS]Resolving defectors’ woes

We are extremely concerned to see repeated failed attempts by North Korean defectors to settle down in the South. A North Korean defector, who married a South Korean fisherman kidnapped to the North, lamented her life, saying, “I should have stayed in the North, eating porridge, if I had known I would face such hardships in the South.” A few days ago, a North Korean defector in his 20s used violence against a female university student, saying he would rather go to prison.
According to the National Police Agency, 305 crimes committed by North Korean defectors were reported from 1998 to 2003. Such crimes are not a new issue, but the problem has deepened.
Because of their peculiar nature, it is difficult to draw up effective solutions for defector issues. The current situation already shows the limit of our society’s passive, stopgap measures.
As of now, about 5,700 North Korean defectors have arrived in the South, but the number is expected to grow to over 10,000 in a few years. In the future, the defectors’ failed attempts at settlement will become a far more serious problem for our society. It is time for the government, the defectors and the South Korean people to come up with a wise resolution.
First, it is urgent for the defectors to change their awareness. South Korea is a capitalist society where abilities are the standard, and the defectors must learn that as soon as possible. The lesson is more important in finding a job. The defectors must accept the wage gap that comes from the difference in abilities, not discrimination. Some said that North Korean university graduates have abilities similar to middle school graduates in the South. The defectors must be aware of such a reality, and get accustomed to it.
The government should also pay special attention to induce the defectors’ acceptance when it provides settlement training. The government should allow the defectors to visit potential employers to give them a chance to determine suitable professions. A policy of providing incentives to those working at the same company for a long time or those working in unpopular jobs should be considered.
South Korean people’s thoughtful consideration to the defectors, embracing them as fellow countrymen, is most important. What disappoints the defectors most is South Koreans’ prejudice that the refugees are ignorant.

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