MoU signed for Vietnam to again send workers to S Korea

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Vietnamese jobseekers at a Korean language test center in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Vietnam signed a limited memorandum of understanding with South Korea Tuesday on resuming labor exports, opening up opportunities for some 14,000 workers.

It was signed by labor minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen and her Korean counterpart Phang Ha-Nam to send guest workers again under Korea's Employment Permit System, which it halted in August 2012, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Chuyen said the signing happened thanks to efforts by the two countries to reduce the number of illegal Vietnamese workers in Korea, including those who flouted their contracts or stayed on after the contract ended.

The agreement is limited to workers who have worked legally in Korea, passed Korean language tests in December 2011 or May or August 2012, or those who have registered or paid for similar tests but are yet to take them because Korea stopped taking in Vietnamese workers. They number around 14,000.

Workers who are hired need to pay VND100 million as a security deposit before signing contracts. The money will be refunded with interest when the contract ends.

The memorandum will take effect at the end of 2014 following a review of the situation. A normal MoU will then be signed.

All workers will then be eligible to work in South Korea, Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of the ministry's Overseas Labor Management Department, said.

He said the proportion of illegal Vietnamese workers in Korea has been cut from 58 percent in the third quarter of 2012 to 38.2 percent now, thanks to several measures including penalties of VND80-100 million (US$3,800-4,740).

It would fall further soon since a large number of illegal workers have registered to come home, he added.

Phang said the normal MoU is a given if Vietnam keeps up its current pace of reducing the number of illegal workers in Korea.

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