S. Korea Appoints a North Korean Defector to Key Post

Posted June 7th, 2011 at 9:05 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea says it has chosen a North Korean defector to head a government unit in charge of educating its citizens on unification with the North.

The Unification Ministry said Tuesday that economist Cho Myung-chul will be formally appointed later this week to a two-year term as head of the ministry-affiliated Education Center for Unification. He is the first North Korean defector to become a senior government official in the South.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Cho was born in the North and taught economics at Pyongyang's Kim IL-Sung University before defecting in 1994.

In Seoul, he worked for the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

More than 21,000 North Koreans have fled to the South to avoid political oppression and hunger since the Korean War ended in 1953 with a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty.