South Korea boosts reward for defectors from North to $860,000

  • Published
South Korean army soldiers watch the North Korean side at the unification observation post in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, 23 FebruaryImage source, AP
Image caption,
The border between South and North Korea is one of the most heavily guarded in the world

The South Korean government is quadrupling the reward it pays defectors from the North who share information to $860,000 (£700,000).

Defectors can expect to receive the six-figure payout if they cross the border with intelligence that helps enhance South Korea's security.

Defecting can be an expensive process as a result of dealing with people-smugglers.

Other amounts will be given to soldiers who defect with weapons.

South Korea's unification ministry said funds would be paid to individuals bringing artillery ranging from aircraft and tanks to small arms.

The sums paid would be determined on a sliding scale of importance, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports.

This is the first such increase in 20 years. So far the North Korean government has not reacted.

North Koreans who wish to defect face crossing the border with China and the risk of being caught and repatriated by the Chinese authorities. They then face a prison sentence back home.

Many rely on people-smugglers to help them arrive in South Korea, with the brokers often demanding large payments to escape the North.

In August 2016, Thae Yong-ho became one of the highest-ranking officials ever to defect from North Korea. He had been a diplomat for Pyongyang in London.