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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Korean-language form too costly, says official

Korean-language form too costly, says official

Workers looking to South Korea for employment should pay less than currently charged to take a required language test, a letter from a national assemblywoman to Cambodia’s labour minister says.

Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Ke Sovannaroth this week sent a letter to Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng arguing that the $24 Cambodians seeking work in South Korea must pay to sign up for the test is too much for people wanting to move for higher wage opportunities. Both countries stipulate that Cambodians seeking work in South Korea must pass the language test.

This round of Korean language tests, for which prospective migrant workers to South Korea can buy sign-up forms in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang and Takeo provinces until Thursday, should be cheaper because many migrant workers who fled Thailand in June may now be seeking work in South Korea, Sovannaroth wrote.

“We have a job crisis where more than 10,000 workers employed in Thailand fled back to Cambodia,” Sovannaroth wrote, referring to the mass exodus of about 100,000 Cambodian workers from Thailand fearing political turmoil when the Thai junta came to power in a May coup d’etat. “So the government should reduce the price of the test forms to encourage our citizens who fled Thailand.”

Furthermore, Sovannaroth argued, many people spend upwards of $100 to travel from far-flung areas just to pick up the forms.

Ya Navuth, executive director of Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility, agreed with Sovannaroth’s suggestion on the language test’s cost, adding that South Korea is seen as a more desirable place to work among migrant Cambodians.

“Most workers would rather work in Korea than countries such as Thailand or Malaysia, because they think they will have more success and less likely to fall victim to exploitation,” Navuth said. “They feel they can earn a better salary in Korea, so the [language test] price should be reduced, so it is more available.”

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour was not available for comment yesterday.

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