Korea stops receiving Vietnamese workers as illegal stays rise

TN News

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Men seeking jobs in South Korea jostle to attend a Korean language exam in Hanoi.

The labor ministry in South Korea has informed its Vietnamese counterpart it will stop receiving Vietnamese laborers after an increase in the number of Vietnamese workers trying to stay in the country illegally.

A statement from the Korean Labor Minister said the country will not extend its Employment Permit System to Vietnam, Tuoi Tre reported Friday.

It said the ratio of illegal Vietnamese laborers in Korea, who had run away from their employers or whose contracts had expired, had risen to 57 percent, the highest among 15 countries sending workers to Korea under the program.

Figures released in the statement listed 22,708 illegal Vietnamese workers currently in South Korea, while there are only 11,347 Vietnamese working under the Employment Permit System.

The program was started in June 2004 and agreements need to be signed again every two years. The latest agreement between Vietnam and South Korean expired on August 28.

Korean authorities last December had stopped Korean language tests for labor candidates and warned Vietnam that no more agreements would be made if the latter failed to reduce the number of illegal workers in Korea. The ratio of illegal Vietnamese in Korea was then 48 percent, and rose to 54 percent in the first quarter this year.

The cancelation means around 12,000 Vietnamese people who have passed Korean language exams and whose files have been posted online for potential employers now have no chance of finding jobs there.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of Vietnam's Department of Overseas Labor, said Vietnam labor authorities have been trying to persuade their Korean counterparts to resume the program.

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Quynh said Vietnam has made efforts to summon the illegal workers home but the results were much lower than the Korean authorities expected.

The efforts include conferences in the hometowns of the illegal workers that asked their families to help persuade their relatives to come home, and the automatic rejection of all overseas labor applications from communes or wards with more than five illegal workers in South Korea.

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