JAKARTA - South Korea's Unification Ministry on Tuesday said it would provide educational support for children of North Korean defectors born in third-party countries to address weaknesses in the welfare guarantee system.

The move is part of the fourth three-year basic plan to support the re-distribution of North Korean defectors.

The ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs has held a meeting to review and approve the 2024-2026 plan.

"The basic plan includes steps to address the shortcomings of existing policies and to further support North Korean defectors," said Deputy Minister of Unification Moon Seoung-hyun at the meeting.

Based on the blueprint, the government plans to set up a legal basis to provide educational support to children of North Korean defectors born in third countries, mostly in China.

Currently only children born in North Korea and defected to South Korea have the right to receive education costs and other financial support and have the opportunity to enter a special university. However, the children of North Korean defectors born abroad are not included in the allowance.

In 2023, the comparison of children of defectors born in third countries is 71 percent of the total elementary, junior high, and upper-middle school students in North Korean defectors' households.

More and more North Korean defectors are stranded in China or other countries, and cannot reach South Korea despite fleeing their home country of repression. As a result, more defectors give birth to children in the third country.

The Ministry of Unification also plans to legalize the principle of accepting North Korean defectors in the upcoming 22nd National Assembly.

In 2022, the ministry proposes a revision of regulations on protection and support for defectors for their re-residential settlements in an effort to prevent forced repatriation of the refugees.

In 2019, under the liberal government of Moon Jae-in, two North Korean fishermen were deported back to their home countries beyond their will for admitting to killing 16 crew members before being arrested on the eastern sea border.

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