Idea posed for defector as legislator

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Idea posed for defector as legislator

Government officials as well as legislators are calling for a change in the National Assembly - related to those from the other Korea.

Chun Yung-woo, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, touched on the need for a lawmaker who had defected from North Korea to represent the interests of fellow defectors, according to South Korean sources yesterday.

Those who were present at a morning meeting for North Korean defectors on Feb. 25 said that Chun told them, “It is time that North Korean defectors took on a more central role in South Korean society.”

“The number of North Korean defectors in the South went over 20,000 last November and they make up a significant part of our society,” said Chun. “There should be someone representing them in politics.”

Chun emphasized that a North Korean defector becoming a politician could have an immense impact on North Korea itself.

Attending the meeting were: James Chan-il An of the World North Korea Research Association, the first North Korean defector to gain a doctorate; Hong Soon-kyung, president of the Committee for Democratization of North Korea; Kim Seong-min, founder and director of Free North Korea Radio; Park Sang-hak of Fighters for Free North Korea; and Kang Cheol-hwan, vice president of the Committee for Democratization of North Korea.

Officials from the Blue House and the South Korean government were present as well, including Kim Young-ho, the Blue House secretary for North Korean affairs.

”Those who were there were greatly encouraged when Chun mentioned the concept of North Korean defector politicians,” said one defector who had attended the meeting. “It was accepted that he was talking about a proportional representative who would stand for the support of the settlement of defectors here as well as North Korean human rights problems.”

Another guest at the session said, “Although it is basically something for those in politics to decide, it was welcoming that a key member of the Blue House in charge of North Korean affairs showed attention on this issue.”

Analysts have pointed out that, with the death last October of Hwang Jang-yop, the top North Korean defector, the chances of gaining a proportional seat for North Korean defectors were diminished.


By Lee Young-jong [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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