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S. Korea to build new resettlement facility for N. Korean defectors

All Headlines 11:50 June 22, 2011

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will build a new facility to accommodate a growing number of North Koreans fleeing poverty and political oppression from their communist homeland, an official said Wednesday.

The move is the latest reminder that the flow of North Korean defectors isn't letting up despite Pyongyang's harsh crackdown on escapees. Seoul is now home to more than 21,700 North Koreans.

South Korea has already been running two other resettlement centers, known as Hanawon near Seoul to help the defectors better adjust to life in the capitalist South.

Still, the government will break ground for another resettlement center in Hwacheon on July 7 as the two current facilities are running at full capacity, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo told reporters.

The area is about 118 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

She also said the government is planning to offer re-education for former North Korean teachers, doctors and other experts in the new resettlement center to be built by the end of 2012.

The announcement comes amid the latest dispute between the two Koreas over nine North Koreans who defected to the South earlier this month.

Seoul has indicated it will not return the North Korean defectors despite the North's request for repatriation. The North usually claims South Korea kidnaps its citizens, charges that Seoul denies.
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