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(LEAD) Unification ministry apologizes for officials' irregularities

2017/09/19 14:50

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SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry on Tuesday apologized to the public after one of its officials was accused of selling personal information about North Korean defectors for money.

The official is suspected of handing over data on 40 defectors for some 14 million won (US$12,000) to South Korean brokers who helped refugees' escape, according to prosecutors. Brokers sought to recoup commission that they failed to receive from the defectors.

In a separate case, an employee at the Korea Hana Foundation, the state-run agency in charge of helping North Korean defectors, was indicted Monday of receiving 120 million won in kickbacks.

"The ministry offers its sincere apology for its officials' involvement in illegal acts," it said in a statement. "In particular, it is regrettable that their irregularities caused trouble for North Korean defectors who have settled in South Korea after overcoming ordeals."

   The government said that it will take stern action against them in accordance with no tolerance toward law violators.

More than 30,000 North Korean defectors have settled in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and a stream of North Koreans continue to defect to the South to avoid chronic food shortages and harsh political oppression.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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