Defector to head center on unification education

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Defector to head center on unification education

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Cho Myung-chul

With more than 20,000 defectors now in South Korea, one of them for the first time has been appointed as a high-ranking official of the South Korean government.

Cho Myung-chul, the newest director of the Education Center for Unification, visited yesterday with reporters at the South Korean Ministry of Unification after receiving a letter of appointment from the unification minister earlier in the day. The ministry announced his new position the day before.

“I’ve been here so many times but it’s the first time I’ve been so nervous,” Cho told reporters. “I believe it’s because I’ve been given such an important position.”

Cho said he thought he was now in a place where he could “give hope and expectation to those who come from North Korea” because of his new achievement.

Cho is a familiar name with the media, as he has been called upon many times as an analyst and has often been recognized as the go-to person for advice on the North Korean economy.

Before Cho was appointed to the education center, he was a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. He has been at the institute since 1994 after defecting that year, and took on various positions there.

Born in 1959, Cho is from Pyongyang and was a professor of economics at Kim Il Sung University, his alma mater. Although he had a life of luxury in North Korea with a father who was a member of the North Korean Cabinet and a mother who was a translator, he made his way to South Korea seeking more freedom.

Cho wishes to pass that freedom on to those who are “still in pain and looking toward South Korea,” he said yesterday.

“Until now, the Education Center for Unification has done so much but I will work to upgrade the center to another level,” said Cho, who added he had thought from the start when he applied, he would be “capable of many things.”

The new director, whose appointment lasts two years, said he would “utilize the diverse manpower and resources already within” the education institute as well as “modern tools,” naming the Internet in particular.

Cho said he is already busy getting “a feel of the place,” as he said his first task at the center was to assess the state of unification education being developed at the center.

The Unification Ministry said in a statement that Cho is a good fit for the position due to his expertise in North Korean affairs and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

The ministry went through a rigorous selection process after it finished accepting bids for the position in mid- May, including an exam, a special assessment for high-ranking officials and screening by a panel in charge of hiring high-ranking government personnel.

Cho said he has hit the ground running, adding “There’s so much to do,” with a grin on his face.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
김일성대 교수 출신 탈북자 조명철씨 통일교육원장에

통일부 통일교육원장에 탈북자 출신인 조명철(57) 대외경제정책연구원(KIEP) 국제개발협력센터 소장이 임명됐다. 국내 입국한 탈북자가 2만 3000명을 돌파한 가운데 고위공무원에 탈북자 출신이 임명된 것은 이번이 처음이다.

 조 신임 원장은 김일성대학에서 경영조종학 박사학위를 받은뒤 교수로 재직하다 1994년 7월 한국으로 왔다. 이후 줄곧 대외경제연구원에서 북한경제 전문가로 활동해왔다.

통일부는 공모 절차를 통해 고위공무원단 가급인 통일교육원장에 조 소장을 선임했다. 현인택 통일부 장관은 8일 오전 조 소장에게 임명장을 수여할 예정이다.

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