To date, around 50% of all arriving defectors in South Korea have been of working age, which means that their ability to settle into South Korean society depends in large part on solving employment problems in the areas in which they live. There are many different defector support programs in place, but we would be wise to worry about the employment problem first and foremost.
A substantial proportion of defectors have to repay the cost of their defection to brokers immediately after exiting from Hanawon, the resettlement and education center run by the government just outside Seoul. In most cases, these payment obligations deprive the individual of his or her economic freedom. As a result, few are able to consider getting the kind of vocational training that might help them find better work later on, and a great number end up rushing hastily into the first job that comes along.
Usually, urgent economic problems are solved within three to six months of entering local society, and at this time many quit their existing job and begin to search for a new one. Research suggests that many also quit due to ill health, taking an overdue moment to recharge and adapt to new surroundings.
This is the time during which defectors need leadership and practical education.
First, distinguishing effectively between what a defector wants to do and what he or she is able to do, in order to provide job opportunities of a more appropriate kind, can reduce the trial and error that plagues the system as it stands. Additionally, it can reduce societal prejudices and have a very positive effect on acclimatization.
Therefore, there is the need to phase in a delay prior to defector employment. In other words, to pursue long-term gains we should introduce approximately six months of employment preparation so as to achieve secure and ongoing employment.
To avoid defectors finding themselves short of emergency funds, the current system of settlement fund distribution every three months should be changed to one of monthly distribution, while there is the need to provide approximately three months of basic education and vocational training, along with attendant welfare benefits.
Outside the education period, any defector who adapts to life by taking on intern employment at local enterprises including convenience stores, gas stations, small and medium size enterprises or manufacturing businesses should be guaranteed payment of one million won per month.
As a result, it should be possible to ensure a more stable and successful working environment for all over the longer term.