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New group to aggressively help defectors, S.Korean POWs

Posted May. 23, 2012 04:28,   


Private projects will be pursued more aggressively to help North Korean defectors and South Korean prisoners of war held in North Korea, including the setup of alternative education institutions for children from the Stalinist country and a nursery home for POWs returned alive.

Dream Makers for North Korea (or Forget-me-not in Korean), an incorporated organization led by former Rep. Park Sun-young of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party, was launched Tuesday. The lawmaker had staged an 11-day hunger strike in February in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to protest Beijing`s forced repatriation of defectors in China, and raised public awareness of the issue.

A gathering of the organization’s charter members was held at Jeongdong Jeil Church in Seoul on Tuesday. Attending were Park, former Constitutional Court justice Kwon Seong, former Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, the Seoul Bar Association`s former Chairman Kim Hyun, Kyung-in Women’s College Honorary President Kim Gil-ja, and Sungshin Women’s University President Shim Hwa-jin.

Politicians in attendance were ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Hwang Woo-yeo and party lawmakers Lee Ju-young, Park Jin, Joo Ho-young, Suh Sang-kee, Cho Hae-jin and Han Ki-ho; Reps. Kim Young-jin and Shin Nak-kyun from the main opposition Democratic United Party; and the Liberty Forward Party`s emergency council Chairman Rhee In-je and Rep. Lee Myoung-soo.

Explaining the meaning of the organization’s establishment in her welcoming speech, Park said, “To unite our divided and splitting society and move forward toward a unified Korea, we urgently need to remember and support those deserted and left forgotten in our modern history.”

“We will establish a good alternative school for children and teenagers who lost the chance to learn in the course of defection, and provide college students from North Korea with the opportunity to participate in overseas English training for one year. We will also establish a nursery home for POWs who have returned alive at advanced ages from captivity in North Korea.”

Named after the flower, Forget-me-not is meant to remember those dumped and forgotten in modern Korean history. The official English title of the organization is Dream Makers for North Korea. The organization will not only establish alternative schools, but also implement far-reaching projects to support human rights in North Korea in a two-phase program. Planned projects will promote freedom and democracy in other countries worldwide and policy research projects will be part of a three-phase program.

Park will leave politics after the term of the 18th General Assembly expires. She plans to work as a law professor at Dongguk University in Seoul and campaign for human rights in North Korea.