Seoul City is pushing for measures to help North Korean defectors, including the establishment of a new support center and increased recruitment.
The city said Thursday it would open Hana Plaza in January to provide consulting and support in employment, residence, education, legal affairs, mental health and other welfare issues.
It will be established in unused space at the Gangnam branch of Seoul Medical Center. The site was provided by the city and funded by the central government.
A cultural complex will also be established to help defectors smoothly adapt and have better communication with local residents.
In addition to the support center, Seoul City upgraded local resident offices to become one-stop centers for North Korean refugees when making move-in notifications.
The city will also expand the number of jobs in the city office for North Korean refugees from the current seven to 20 by 2015. Their number in affiliated organizations will be increased from 11 to 64 by that year.
About 23,000 North Korean defectors live in South Korea and 27.7 percent of them are Seoul residents, which is the second highest concentration in the country.
According to a survey last year, one in two South Koreans are indifferent to North Korean defectors’ adjustment and do not consider them to be nationals.
The city’s measures are in line with an ordinance for supporting North Korean defectors’ settlement introduced last May.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (email@example.com