Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Korea eyes investigation of illegal Cambodian migrants

Korea eyes investigation of illegal Cambodian migrants

Workers put harvested ginseng into sacks on a South Korean farm in 2013. Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea is launching an investigation into illegal Cambodian migrant workers in Korea. Bloomberg
Workers put harvested ginseng into sacks on a South Korean farm in 2013. Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea is launching an investigation into illegal Cambodian migrant workers in Korea. Bloomberg

Korea eyes investigation of illegal Cambodian migrants

Cambodia's ambassador to South Korea, Suth Dina, said he is launching a joint investigation with Korean authorities to break up a network of Cambodian migrants working illegally in Korea.

In an warning posted on his Facebook page yesterday, Dina said he met with a special intelligence unit in Seoul on Wednesday who are seeking to arrest the ringleaders of a network called “KNN Cambodia”, who he said are working illegally in Korea.

“It is an important issue,” Dina’s post reads. “We have evidence that KNN Cambodia is doing this kind of business.”

Contacted yesterday, Dina declined to elaborate further, but the Facebook post said he “reserves the right” not to name names, as the investigation is ongoing.

Moeun Tola, of the rights group Central, said he had not heard of this specific case, but noted that Cambodian migrant workers in Korea go through a stringent government process and are only allowed to work with one pre-arranged employer.

If they run into problems with that employer and leave, Tola explained, they are then considered illegal migrants. Cases of this happening were most common for Cambodians working on Korean farms, he said.

“Some of them meet with difficulties with their employer, such as working hard, working long hours and with the cooler weather, especially the workers who work in agriculture,” he said.

Workers should be given greater flexibility to transfer to different employers, he said, adding that those who had left their jobs and were then considered illegal were likely coming together to help each other.

Kim Yi-chan, a representative from People of the Earth’s Station, an NGO supporting migrant workers in Korea, yesterday echoed Tola’s sentiments.

“I can describe some cases of wage delay, bad working conditions and oppressive relationships between bosses and workers that the Cambodian workers [face],” he said, adding that these cases were mostly in the agricultural sector.

A Cambodian worker who recently fell into illegal status after leaving his job on a Korean farm due to the long work hours spoke to the Post from Korea yesterday.

The worker said he is now in limbo, unable to find work elsewhere.

“I don’t want to be an illegal worker here. I want to come back home,” the worker said.

The Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Since 2007, more than 40,000 Cambodian migrant workers have left for Korea. Last year, more than 7,000 migrated to the country, the majority to work in agriculture.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the