Go to contents

Settlement Funds Down, Employment Subsidies Up For Defectors

Settlement Funds Down, Employment Subsidies Up For Defectors

Posted February. 08, 2007 07:09,   


As the number of North Korean defectors entering South Korea has surpassed ten thousand, the South Korean government has reduced settlement funds for the defectors from the current 10 million won (1 person household basis) to 6 million won, cutting aid by 40%. Instead, in the case that defectors find a job and work at the one workplace for more than a year, the government has increased grants provided for encouraging employment, boosting the current 9 million won supplied for a period three years, to 15 million won.

It was revealed on February 7 that the Ministry of Unification recently held a council on measures for North Korean defectors, and, centered on the abovementioned decisions, they settled reform plans on the aid policy towards North Korean defectors.

Settlement funds will be collectively applied to North Korean defectors who arrived in South Korea after January 1, 2007. Employment subsidies will be applied to defectors starting from those who entered the South after January 1, 2005. According to the modified system, employment subsidies will be increased from 2 million won to 4.5 million won for the first-year, raised from 3 million won to 5 million in the second-year, and the third-year amount will be increased from 4 million won to 5.5 million won.

The government has also taken into account the recent leasing conditions in the housing market, and based on a one person household, it increased housing funds from 10 million won to 13 million won. The system that provides additional funds for the elderly, handicapped and those with long-term illnesses has also been sustained, allowing funds of up to 15.4 million won. In addition, an ‘Independence Support Center’ – an institution that will focus on job consulting for defectors – will also be established, and will commence operation in 2008, when a budget is available.

A Ministry of Unification official said, “In the age of ten thousand defectors, the basic objective for this modification is to change from a protective support policy to one that will promote independence.” He added, “Direct funds that provided money to defectors, even if they did not work, will be reduced, and we will increase incentives for defectors who make an effort to adjust to South Korean society by getting jobs or by other means.”

Around ten North Korean defectors came to Korea every year in the early 1990s, but as famine in North Korea worsened in the mid 1990s, the numbers increased rapidly, and at the end of 2006, the number of defectors stood at 9,706. Including those who have entered South Korea but have yet to receive inspection, the number of North Korean defectors exceeds ten thousand.

Previously, in December of 2004, the government came to the conclusion that a large portion of the settlement funds provided to North Korean defectors flowed straight into the pockets of defector brokers and did little to raise their ability support themselves. The government lowered the amount of settlement funds at the time from 28 million won to 10 million won.