Provincial governments prepare for defectors

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Provincial governments prepare for defectors

Provincial governments are approving new regulations to help their efforts to resettle some of the 20,000 North Koreans who have defected to the South and live outside of Seoul.

Of the 16 provincial-level governments nationwide, 11 have enacted new regulations supporting defectors and ordered their administrative divisions to assign budgets to help them.

The administration and welfare committee of the North Chungcheong Provincial Council, for example, has brought new regulations to the plenary session of the local assembly, asking it to assign funds and make supportive programs for defectors.

“Currently, South Korea has laws helping North Korean defectors resettle, but all of them were under the control of the Ministry of Unification,” said Kim Yeong-ju, a member of the North Chungcheong Provincial Council, who proposed the regulation. “Most defectors reside outside Seoul but local governments have little support or budget for them.”

If the local assembly approves the regulation to help defectors, the local government will assign funds and design specific programs.

Since 2008, the Gangwon Provincial Office has held an annual workshop for defectors, where they can learn about South Korean manners and laws and about the job market.

“Besides the workshop, we recently sponsored about 18 million won ($15,700) for a joint marriage ceremony for eight North Korean couples,” said Jang Chu-wall, an official at the provincial office said.

The South Jeolla Provincial Assembly also enacted a new regulation on Dec. 5 that contains training programs to help defectors adjust to life in the South and consulting sessions to give them advice about life in a capitalistic system.

The provincial assembly of South Chungcheong enacted a new regulation on Nov. 17 in an attempt to cooperate with other organizations and government officials. The provincial assembly said yesterday that it will hold a meeting twice a year and has a plan to arrange budgets for defectors to begin businesses, such as providing medical support, holding cultural and sports events and giving legal advice.

The Busan, Daegu and Daejeon city governments and the South Chungcheong Provincial Office all established special councils that local civic groups, education offices, police stations and labor offices participate in.

By Shin Jin-ho, Kim Hee-jin []
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