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Govt. launches team to support vulnerable N. Korean defectors

Ministry of Unification (Yonhap)
Ministry of Unification (Yonhap)
The South Korean government launched an interagency team Monday tasked with helping North Korean defectors suffering from economic and psychological difficulties after resettlement here.

The nine-member team, comprising officials from different government agencies, will provide support in fields ranging from education and employment to living and psychological counseling for the defectors, the Ministry of Unification said.

According to a biannual government survey conducted last year, 1,582 defectors were found to be in need of help in addition to the general welfare package provided to all defectors upon their resettlement here.

Of the total, nearly half of them, or 47 percent, said they had psychological difficulties.

"Close cooperation among related agencies is crucial as crisis situations experienced by North Korean defectors often involve intertwined economic, social and psychological issues," ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo told a regular press briefing. "We will step up our support to make sure they can comfortably and stably resettle in our society."

The living conditions of North Korean defectors came to the spotlight after a defector who fled the North last year allegedly crossed the heavily fortified inter-Korean border again last month to return home.

The man, reportedly in his 30s, is known to have suffered economic difficulties while living in the South. (Yonhap)

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