Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will meet North Korean defectors this week apparently to assuage their concerns caused by his controversial decision to exclude a defector-turned-journalist from covering recent inter-Korean talks, a ministry official said.
His meeting with North Korean defectors from four unidentified organizations will be held Wednesday, according to the official.
The meeting will not be open to the public and what will be discussed will not be disclosed either.
"It is intended to listen to opinions from North Korean defectors," he said on condition of anonymity. He added that the meeting was proposed by the ministry.
Cho recently caused a stir by excluding a defector-turned-journalist of the conservative Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper from pool reporters covering high-level inter-Korean talks held at the truce village of Panmunjom on Oct. 15.
The last-minute decision prompted a strong outcry from North Korean defectors and other journalists, which voiced concerns over its violation of freedom of the press and discrimination against defectors in the workplace.
Journalists covering the unification ministry issued a statement condemning the decision and requesting a promise to prevent such an incident from happening again.
Cho, however, defended his decision, saying that he took into consideration unique circumstances in which inter-Korean talks would be held such as the "confined space" and the fact that the journalist is well-known to North Korean officials. He made clear that a similar decision will be made again if he faces a similar situation. (Yonhap)