North Korean women pick up a delivery of beverages from Chinese men at their embassy in Beijing on August 26. There are now 26,514 defectors in South Korea, and a total of 28,607 North Koreans living outside their country of origin. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The unemployment rate for North Korean defectors decreased in 2015, a sign that South Korea's policies are working as more North Koreans resettle in the South.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said Tuesday the unemployment rate of defectors dropped to 4.8 percent in 2015, down from 12.1 percent in 2011.
That number, however, is still higher than the overall South Korean unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, according to 2014 statistics.
North Korean defector unemployment rates are trending downward, owing perhaps to certain Seoul initiatives, including job fairs exclusively for defectors. In 2014, a job fair for defectors in Gyeonggi Province drew about 1,000 people, with more than 50 South Korean firms participating.
There are now 26,514 defectors in South Korea, and a total of 28,607 North Koreans living outside their country of origin, South Korean outlet News 1 reported.
In 2015, a total of 1,088 North Koreans resettled in the South, down from 2014 and 2013 -- when 1,397 North Koreans were permitted entry and citizenship.
In other areas of defector policy, South Korea has stepped up public education regarding defectors, and the Unification Ministry is planning an immersion program for South Korean middle school students, Yonhap reported.
A recent survey showed more than half of pre-college South Korean students said unification would be a change for the better.
The survey, co-issued by the Unification and Education Ministries, polled nearly 120,000 students across the country: 54.2 percent said Korean society would improve if unified, an increase of 8.5 percentage points from 2014, when less than half, or 45.7 percent, said there would be positive outcomes.
But in the public education system, South Korean students are receiving mixed messages about North Korea and its people, Newsis reported.
Students are taught in class to associate the North Korean regime with war and dictatorship, but are expected to cooperate and support the North Korean people. In the same joint survey, 50.5 percent of respondents said North Korea should be a partner of cooperation, but 31.8 percent said North Korea is a hostile target.