|Vietnamese workers register for foreign language tests to work in South Korea at Ha Noi's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Viet
HA NOI (VNS) — The South Korean labour market may be closed off to Vietnamese workers if Viet Nam does not make more effort to reduce the number overstaying their visas and working illegally.
Announcing this yesterday, the Centre of Overseas Labour under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that since 2004, about 71,730 Vietnamese had gone to work in South Korea under the Employment Permit System.
By 2011, up to 57 per cent of them had overstayed after their contracts had expired. The rate had fallen by 30 per cent in late 2012, when about 17,000 workers were reported to be staying on illegally.
Luong Duc Long, deputy director of the centre, said that Viet Nam must do more to cut the numbers or it would serious affect opportunities for new workers.
Since early this year, more than 5,280 Vietnamese workers have been selected by South Korean enterprises. Of these, more than 3,820 are first-time participants, while the rest are renewing their contracts.
South Korea's Ministry of Employment and Labour has warned that it would stop accepting Vietnamese workers "at any time" as the rate of runaways is double that of 15 other countries supplying workers.
In 2012, South Korea actually stopped receiving workers from Viet Nam, but the ban has since been lifted.
Long claimed that Vietnamese workers "lacked awareness" of the problem and that the higher pay scales were so tempting.
The income of a worker in Viet Nam is VND3-5 million a month (US$141-235), compared to South Korean incomes of between $1,000-1,500.
Vietnamese who sign contracts with South Korean enterprises for four years can earn a total of up to $50,000 for their whole term.
Long said illegal workers could be caught and expelled whenever found. They would not be allowed to return for at least five years and could receive fines of VND100 million ($4,710) from Viet Nam authorities.
He said those who wished to return to South Korea could register at the centre within three months of returning home. Vietnamese agencies are mobilising the families of overstayed workers to apply pressure for them to return. — VNS