N. Korea refugees get help with English

17th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British embassy in Seoul launched a programme Tuesday to teach English to North Korean refugees so they can compete better in South Korean society.

The project provides one year of English-language education at the British Council for 47 people, and a one-year scholarship for postgraduate study in Britain for one refugee.

Nine refugees have been offered a three-month internship with leading employers under the programme, sponsored by South Korean and overseas organisations or companies.

"English-language ability can be a real barrier for new settlers from North Korea who strive to access the good jobs and higher education opportunities that South Korea has to offer," ambassador Martin Uden told reporters.

More than 21,000 North Koreans have fled poverty, hunger or repression to come to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 war.

But many of them trail their South Korean counterparts in work experience and education, including English skills.

A survey last August showed the jobless rate for refugees was 8.8 percent compared to 3.3 percent nationally at the time. Half of them earned less than one million won ($924) a month, less than one third of the national average.

© 2011 AFP

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