|▲ At-Risk Youth Welfare & Education Agency / Director Sunhwa Won|
Detecting at-risk youth and helping them grow as strong and independent members of society is very important for the promising future of a nation. Many organizations, for this reason, rolled up their sleeve to give help and support to school dropouts and juvenile delinquents. And the At-Risk Youth Welfare & Education Agency is one of them.
Sunhwa Won, Director of the At-Risk Youth Welfare & Education Agency, was shocked by the news of a child homicide not soon after she arrived in South Korea. The 5 year old child was beaten to death by his own father. She thought that children in South Korea are happy in general but the horrendous news made her immediately visit to a library nearby to find books about children and youth in South Korea.
After escaping North Korea in September 2011 and settled down in South Korea, Won made a progress in social welfare and is now serving as a chief professor of the at-risk youth welfare course at the lifelong learning center affiliated to Seoul Social Welfare Graduate School. Prior in North Korea, she served as a military policy instructor for 12 years, equivalent to major in the South Korean army.
It has become her goal of life to let the world know about the youth at risk in both North and South Koreas and to help them exchange with fellow young people in the world.
The At-Risk Youth Welfare & Education Agency runs various customized programs including vocational training and cultural differences between South and North Koreas.
Q. What is your job at the moment apart from the director’s role?
A. I majored in social welfare and am serving as the chief professor (aforementioned), the secretary general of the Juvenile Guidance Commission, and a member of the youth department in a community center. I have this feeling that South Korea’s huge budget to tackle low birth rate is not working properly since the figure keeps declining. Also, the budget for at-risk youth does not seem to have changed the situation much.
Q. How can the agency help the youth at risk?
A. We are focusing on psychological recover first of all. And then move to understanding about each phase of life, and to narrowing down the gaps between the generations, and to vocational training. Through these cycles, youth can improve themselves in terms of personality, sociability and ability to be independent members of the society.
Q. You are planning a program in relation to a human resource organization in the North?
A. I’m planning to run an exchange program with the 1st High School, a human resource training institution in the North. My goal is to foster talented young manpower who will lead the unified Korea in the future.
Q. You are a mother of two children?
A. As a mother of two children, I ardently hope to end hostility and separation between the two Koreas. We need to build one Korea that is strong and harmonized and that last forever and ever. The youth in South Korea in particular have great roles to lead the unified Korea in the future that will be the land where opportunities meet and dreams come true.
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