By Lee Kyoung Mi and Kim Young Shin
In an effort to bridge the gap between North Korean defectors in the South and South Korean citizens, a cultural center that hopes to bring the two groups together is to open in the neighborhood of Magok in Gangseo-gu District, Seoul, by 2020.
The so-called “unified cultural center,” which aims to become a core facility to prepare for the future of a unified Korea, had its ground-breaking ceremony on April 13. The center, with two basement floors and seven above-ground floors, is to be complete by 2020. It plans to offer comprehensive counseling programs, employment education, especially for defectors, as well as a library, concert halls and exhibition halls.
Up until now, the Hana Centers located across South Korea served as community welfare centers to help North Korean defectors settle in the South. This is now the first time for a cultural center to be built specifically for both North Korean defectors and South Korean citizens.
“We hope that the unified cultural center will serve as a steppingstone for the future of a unified Korea, as well as a window for communication between North Korean defectors and their new neighbors,” said an official from the Ministry of Unification.