South Korea’s Ministry of Unification announced on Sunday that it will introduce legislation to quadruple “rewards to people who provide intelligence and knowledge that can enhance South Korea’s security.” The reward will be increased to up to 1 billion won, the equivalent of $860,000 USD. The agency then said that “people who come over with a military plane or vessel,” those who “turned in tanks, armored vehicles and guided weapons,” or troops who “defect with small arms” will qualify for the reward.
The reward is intended to act as an incentive for potential North Korean defectors that fear they cannot earn a living outside of North Korea.
“One of the biggest reasons why North Koreans are hesitant about defecting is because they are fearful of [how they would make a living] after they come to South Korea,” Yonhap news agency cited a ministry official as saying.
The last high-profile defector to leave the oppressive regime was Pyongyang’s former ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong-Ho, who defected in August 2016, saying he wanted to raise awareness about the “gruesome realities” in the reclusive country.
The government currently offers up to $217,000 to defectors from the north with sensitive information about the state and its regime. A ministry insider quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the proposed increase is the first reward “adjustment” in 20 years in monetary terms and reflected “the rise in consumer prices since 1997.”
The exact sum paid to each individual that releases information will be determined on the basis of the importance of the intelligence.