A shelter for North Korean defectors in South Korea marked its 11th anniversary on Thursday. More than 18,000 defectors from the communist state have crossed the border.
[Hyun In-taek, South Korean Unification Minister]: (male, Korean)
"An era of 20,000 North Korean defectors is coming. Seeing increasing number of North Korean defectors, the government has a serious thought of unification, feeling a ."
The shelter, called “Hanawon,” has helped all North Korean arrivals start a new life in the South.
Hanawon, meaning "house of unity," teaches the new arrivals skills such as using washing machines and paying bills over the Internet.
The South's spy agency keeps an eye out for potential North Korean agents, while trying to shatter the image built by the North's propaganda that leader Kim Jong-il is a deity.
A few Hanawon graduates have gone on to successful careers, but most defectors have trouble finding jobs because the communist system in the North provided few necessary job skills.
Some defectors say they face discrimination in the workplace.
The move for defectors is also emotionally stressful. They have left family and friends behind and many try to earn enough to pay brokers to get other relatives out.
Many of the defectors receive a new name at Hanawon for their safety and also to protect family members left behind in the North.