Korea Hana Foundation expands defector mentoring program

Korea Hana Foundation is looking to recruit
university student volunteers to take part in an education program for North
Korean teenage defectors in the South.

On May 24, the foundation signed an
agreement with Sookmyung Women’s University to provide individualized classes
for young defectors. With 11 volunteers that signed up shortly after that, the
group has been providing mentoring programs for defectors at elementary and
middle schools with larger concentrations of students from the North. On
October 14, it recruited nine more volunteers and reviewed the progress made
thus far while carrying out training for the new members.

The volunteer mentors receive initial
training from the foundation to enhance their understanding about people from
North Korea and then conduct one-on-one classes with students once or twice a

“Defector students usually hide the fact
that they’re from the North and become very introverted. Through this mentoring
program, I’ve seen them not only benefit from an educational point of view but
also change for the better because they’re able to talk and communicate more
openly and receive attention,” Sohn Gyeong Jin, the coordinator for North
Korean students at Gyeongseo Middle School in Seoul, said. “I’d like to see
more mentors come out to meet the students.”

Director of Korea Hana Foundation, Sohn
Gwang Joo, said becoming a mentor for North Korean students in the South not
only will “help them resettle in the South and foster growth,” it is an
opportunity for people to “take part in the process of integration for
reunification.” He said this is why the foundation will continue to expand and
promote the education mentoring program.

The program is looking for more mentors to volunteer and said those interested
may place their inquiries with the foundation (at 02-3215-5756, Jeong Su Hwa).

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