Upon arrival in the South, defectors from the communist nation are put under custody for questioning by intelligence and other agencies to determine whether they are truly from the North and to find out more about their background and motivations for defecting.
Critics have said the period of questioning, up to 180 days, is unnecessarily long and could be considered an infringement of human rights.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet plans to approve a revision to the enforcement decree of the North Korean Refugees Protection and Settlement Support Act to cut the questioning period in half.
After questioning, defectors are set free with state financial and other support aimed at helping them resettle in the capitalist South.
More than 1,000 North Koreans arrive in South Korea every year after fleeing their impoverished and oppressive communist homeland. As of the end of December, the total number of North Korean defectors in South Korea stood at 31,339. The tally topped the 30,000 mark in November 2016.(Yonhap)