The South Korean government is significantly increasing the cash reward it offers to those who defect from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and provide Seoul with intelligence about the government to the north, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday citing officials.
The reward will be increased from the current maximum of US$217,000 to up to US$860,000 which will go to “people who provide intelligence and knowledge that can enhance South Korea’s security,” the news agency said.
The defectors will be rewarded different amounts depending on the importance and sensitivity of the information obtained the South Korean government. The hundreds of dollars of increased reward is the south's attempt to motivate high-level government officials to defect and can easily lead to people coming forward with false statements in search of the reward.
In an escalation of tensions with the socialist DPRK, it was also reported that DPRK soldiers who defect with their weapons would also be rewarded by South Korea.
This comes after Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, was murdered on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia after being assaulted by two women who the police believe smeared his face with VX, a nerve agent.
But the DPRK ambassador to Malaysia said that Pyongyang "cannot trust" Malaysia's handling of the investigation, and accused the country of "colluding with outside forces," in reference to South Korea, which is allied with U.S. interests.
In the latest escalation, Malaysia said Saturday it was expelling the ambassador as a result of his comments against the murder investigation.