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COVID-19 relief payouts 92 percent complete

People wait at a community service center in Seoul`s Jongno Ward last week to apply for the government`s emergency relief funds. (Yonhap)
People wait at a community service center in Seoul`s Jongno Ward last week to apply for the government`s emergency relief funds. (Yonhap)
More than 92 percent of South Korean households have received their emergency disaster relief funds from the government, three weeks after the payouts began, the government said Monday. 

According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, by Sunday the government had paid out 89.3 percent of the 14.24 trillion won ($11.46 billion) allocated for disaster relief to 92.8 percent of the 21.71 million households in Korea.

The National Assembly approved the supplementary budget bill April 30, mandating one-off payments to all households in the country starting May 4. The first payments went to around 2.8 million households in the lowest income bracket as part of an initiative that was in the planning stages for nearly three months.

Under the program, households with four or more members get 1 million won, three-person households get 800,000 won, two-person households get 600,000 won and single-person households get 400,000 won. Households can choose to receive their share in the form of credit or debit card points, prepaid cards, cash points or gift certificates.

Some 14.15 million households, or 65.2 percent of the total, chose credit or debit card points. Those payments totaled 9.33 trillion won.

Online applications for credit or debit card points, available through local card companies, opened May 11 and are to close June 5. The government started accepting offline applications May 18 for card points, gift certificates and prepaid cards.

The card points, gift certificates and prepaid cards cannot be used online, at large supermarkets or at entertainment venues.

Any relief funds not claimed or spent by the Aug. 31 deadline will be regarded as donations to the state.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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