The former head of Daily NK’s Unification Strategy Research Center Son Gwang-ju was today sworn in as president of the Korea Hana Foundation, an organization which supports North Korean defector settlement in South Korea.
Son founded Daily NK, a news outlet focusing on DPRK issues in 2004 and worked as first chief editor. He also worked as a secretary of Hwang Jang-yop – the defector known for establishing Juche ideology – from 1999 to 2010, and has been actively involved in unification and North Korea human rights issues.
The Ministry of Unification (MoU) said he is well experienced and knowledgeable on unification and defector issues in a press release issued today.
One observer however indicated Son’s experience has mostly been focused on human rights issues, rather than defector settlement.
“For now, I can’t figure out his plans regarding defector issues or how he is thinking about them. Generally his political stance is conservative,” a Seoul based journalist, who reports about unification issues told NK News on the condition of anonymity.
Son declined a phone interview, saying the process of starting the new job was still ongoing.
The foundation’s newsletter indicated the new president will concentrate on integrating defectors into South Korean society, highlighting efforts to support president Park’s initiative on unification issues.
“I will try to be a president of the foundation, devoted to a nation preparing for unification,” the letter, written by Son reads.
He also pointed out when the foundation distributes financial support to defectors, it should be according to the “rule of law”, which follows the policy of the foundation’s previous president Cheong Ok-nim.
Cheong, who left the position in the middle of her term, tried to improve defectors’ motivation and highlighted they should not be totally reliant on subsidies.
“Some defectors are highly politicized and have excessive requirements, using their defector identity as a privilege,” Cheong said, at the event on June 4, co-organized by the foundation and the Asiatic Research Institute of Korea University.
The Korea Hana Foundation, previously known as the North Korean Refugee Foundation, has attracted criticism from some parts of the defector community due to its lack of defector representation on its board.
Featured image: Korea Hana Foundation
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