The number of migrant workers who will travel to South Korea this year will nearly double compared with last year, according to the Labour Ministry.
Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday that South Korea was seeking nearly 10,000 workers this year, up from just 5,700 last year. Of this year’s workers, about 4,700 are being sought for industrial jobs, 3,700 for agriculture and 1,000 for construction.
Workers seeking to travel to South Korea have to pass an exam showing they have a grasp of the Korean language. The exam is highly competitive – some 54,000 applicants are vying for this year’s 10,000 spots, Sour said – and more than a dozen were arrested during last year’s exams for trying to take the test for others.
Dy The Hoya, a program officer at the labour rights group Central, said South Korea offers workers a shot at a better salary than they could hope for at home, but the opportunity comes at a cost.
“I think that the expenses and the registration costs for workers, and the fact that the number of workers selected still isn’t much, is not satisfying,” he said, noting that Korea still has its share of workers encountering adverse conditions.