Microsoft Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 13 November with the South Korean Ministry of Unification and the North Korean Refugee Foundation to provide information technology (IT) education and training support for youth defectors from North Korea.

During the ceremony, Mr Shank said that Microsoft remains committed to bridging the opportunity divide in South Korea

The new YouthSpark initiative was launched during the MOU signing ceremony and was attended by Craig Shank, Microsoft Vice President for International Government Affairs; Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea; South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik; and North Korean Refugees Foundation President Kim Il-joo. During the ceremony, Mr Shank explained that this programme is part of the YouthSpark activities initiated by Microsoft to bridge the opportunity divide in South Korea. 

Under the collaboration, Microsoft Korea will provide basic computer skills training and software, such as Windows® and Office 365TM, over the next three years to seven schools that are specially established for North Korean youth. Computers, printers and other IT equipment donated by Microsoft to the schools will be managed and distributed by the North Korean Refugees Foundation.

Minister Yu said that North Korean youth with refugee backgrounds often face considerable difficulties in adapting to a new society, and Microsoft’s funding and support will help the young people keep up with the latest advances in IT technology.

The MOU ceremony was attended by (back row, left to right) Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea; Craig Shank, Microsoft Vice President for International Government Affairs; Yu Woo-ik, South Korean Unification Minister; and Kim Il-joo, President of the North Korean Refugees Foundation

“Microsoft is committed to aiding North Korean refugee youth to overcome the opportunity gaps they may face in terms of education and employment. Through this programme, we aim to support their endeavours and help them develop adequate work skills — and to ultimately assimilate faster into their new living environment,” added Ms Park.

“Microsoft is committed to helping North Korean refugee youth to overcome the opportunity gaps they may face in terms of education and employment.”

- Sunny Park, Legal and Corporate Affairs Lead, Microsoft Korea