The Seoul city government will provide North Korean defectors with free health checkups, online tutoring services for students and other support measures to help them better settle in their new homeland, officials said on Monday.
It is the first time in nine years that Seoul has put together support measures for defectors, reports Yonhap News Agency.
Seoul is home to 6,759 defectors, about 21.4 per cent of the total, and about 3.4 billion won ($2 million) has been earmarked for this year’s support plan, up 1.5 billion won from last year.
Under the plan, free medical examinations will be provided for 200 people aged 14 or older in the first half of the year on a pilot basis, and those in need of medical treatment after examinations will be additionally given 1 million won in the name of nursing fees a year.
The program will be expanded to other defectors either in the second half or next year, officials said.
The city government also increased the amount of financial aid provided to help new defector households settling in Seoul purchase basic household items, such as TV sets and fans, to 1 million won from 700,000 won.
Also available to defectors will be welfare services for those suffering domestic violence or poverty as well as counselling programs for those experiencing depression or trauma, officials said.
The support plan also includes free e-learning classes and mentoring services for defector students through SeoulLearn, an online education platform, public jobs and community integration programs for defectors.
“The plan aims to help (North Korean defectors) gain complete independence and social integration, not only resettlement,” the city government said.