South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has quadrupled its reward for North Korean defectors who supply classified information.
“The Ministry of Unification announced Sunday that it would pay up to 1 billion won ($860,000) – eclipsing the previous maximum of 250 million won,” CNN reported on Sunday. “A bill outlining the changes is set to be submitted and would offer substantial financial rewards for those able to provide intelligence and knowledge, which could enhance South Korea’s security, according to the ministry.”
The move probably will not enhance Pyongyang’s appetite for “unification,” especially given that relations are already strained over North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test — an “extremely dangerous action,” according to Japan — and the North’s routine annual outrage at U.S.-South Korean military drills.
However, it is easy to see why South Korea is more eager to obtain intelligence on the North’s activities than ever. North Korea appears to be planning for another nuclear test and seems eager to develop nuclear-tipped missiles before South Korea can fully deploy the American THAAD anti-missile system. American, Japanese, and South Korean planners are very anxious to know what the North Korean regime is planning.
President Trump has reportedly focused on North Korea as the most immediate security threat to the United States and its allies. Military force is said to be a possibility for dealing with this threat. Better intelligence from the reclusive regime would be important to both making a decision about the use of force and planning a successful mission.
One of the most urgent questions is whether China has truly lost its patience with the Kim regime — and, if so, what steps Beijing is prepared to take, or tolerate, to resolve the situation.