South Korea Pledges Support for North Korean Defectors

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South Korea's unification minister pledges to help North Korean defectors resettle in the South. And at a local exhibition, some defectors portray stories of life in North Korea's prison camps through drawings and photos.

South Korea's unification minister pledged to support North Korean defectors' settlement in the South on Tuesday.

He spoke at an opening ceremony of a foundation designed to help North Korean defectors settle in society by living independently through economic and social education.

The unification ministry says more than 20,000 North Koreans have defected to the affluent South to escape poverty and repression in the North.

An exhibition in Seoul was organized to display defectors' drawings and photos depicting the harsh life in the North's political prison camps.

Some drawings showed various torture methods.

One North Korean defector says she was imprisoned when she was 13-years-old, because it was suspected her grandfather had defected to the South.

[Kim Hae-sook, North Korean Defector]:
"I had been through all the humiliations, disdainful treatment and starvation, but I had the saddest moment and missed my mother the most right after I had a baby. I had nothing to eat after the delivery."

Another defector remembered the camp as an inhumane place. He was imprisoned for having a relationship with a South Korean in China.

[Jung Gwang-il, North Korean Defector]:
"North Korea's political prison camp is a cold-blooded place. The prisoners themselves rather liked to see other inmates were dying because they would get more food after cleaning up those dead bodies."

According to human rights advocates, North Korea prevents free speech, controls all media and is thought to have ended nascent attempts at reform by executing or imprisoning those who oppose the communist state.

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