A new cultural center for promoting exchanges between North Korean defectors and the local community will open Wednesday with limited programs due to concerns over the coronavirus, the unification ministry said.
The Inter-Korean Cultural Integration Center, which was set to open in March, had been delayed amid the spread of COVID-19.
The ministry said the opening ceremony of the center, located in Seoul's Gangseo district, will be replaced by the online release of video clips of congratulatory messages from officials and celebrities on its website.
The ministry said the center will focus on online programs and a few offline programs restricted to less than eight people, in accordance with quarantine measures.
"We had prepared many (offline) programs, but it became difficult to carry them out in large numbers because of the coronavirus situation," Lee Jong-ju, director of the humanitarian cooperation bureau at the ministry, told reporters.
The center plans to gradually expand its offline programs depending on the coronavirus situation, offering programs to help defectors connect with the community, including cooking, yoga and music classes.
The center seeks to provide defectors with the opportunity to volunteer for the community with locals and to help them become productive contributors to society, the ministry said. (Yonhap)