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Unification ministers absent at 20th anniversary event of Hanawon

Unification ministers absent at 20th anniversary event of Hanawon

Posted July. 09, 2019 07:40,   

Updated July. 09, 2019 07:40


Criticism is being stoked that the Unification Ministry is walking on eggshells for North Korea as neither its minister nor deputy minister attended the recent event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Settlement Support Center for North Korean Refugees commonly known as Hanawon.

The ceremony was held Monday at Hanawon in Anseong City, Gyeonggi Province. Various events took place such as a music performance by North Korean refugees, a commendation for settlement supporters, and a large-sized puzzle assembly. However, not only the unification minister but the deputy minister failed to attend for the events. “It’s Hanawon’s 20th anniversary, but neither of them showed up” said a refugee with indignation. “We cannot help but think they are concerned about complaints from Pyongyang.”

For the 10th anniversary ceremony, the Unification Ministry had disclosed Hanawon for the first time to reporters and arranged interviews with refugees, but this time such an event was missing this time.

“Initially, the minister was scheduled to attend the event, but he couldn’t make it for his parliamentary commitments, and the deputy minister couldn’t visit Anseong either for the same reason,” explained an official from the Unification Ministry. “There was some negative feedback after disclosing Hanawon as it is an A-grade national security facility, so we’ve decided to keep it internal,” the official added in responding to the apparently reduced scale of the ceremony.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com