South Korea on Thursday decided to extend the period in which North Korean defectors can apply for settlement here from the current one year to three years to provide them with more support, the unification ministry said.
Under the current law, defectors from the communist country can face restrictions in receiving state support in case they fail to express their intent to settle in South Korea within one year of arrival.
But the National Assembly passed the revision earlier in the day to extend the period to three years, which will go into effect in January next year, the ministry said.
According to government data, 206 North Korean defectors, as of October 2018, failed to get full state support because they missed the one-year deadline.
The revision also allowed residence-related support for the defectors who have been denied full support by the Seoul government, the ministry noted.
As of end-November, there were 32,381 North Korean defectors living here, with 1,042 people from the North arriving here so far this year, according to the data. (Yonhap)