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Workers in South Korea complain of visa fees

Workers in South Korea complain of visa fees

Cambodian workers in South Korea have asked the government to investigate Cambodian officials they claim extorted money from them by increasing fees for visa extensions and other certificates issued by the Cambodian embassy in Seoul.

In an email obtained by The Post yesterday, Cambodian workers in South Korea said that embassy officials requested US$200 for visa extensions and up to $900 for some certificates.

“Cambodia embassy officials at the Republic of Korea never work for the benefit of our workers,” said the workers via email.

“Instead, they used all means to extort money from us and [if] a worker wanted to extend a visa, [they] must pay 150,000 won ($150) to 200,000 won).”

The email also stated that embassy officials had demanded $800 to $900 from a labourer who needed to obtain a certificate to send their child to Cambodia.

Chea Vuthy, 25, a worker in the ship installation industry, said yesterday that more than 100 workers had faced this problem.

“Before we entered Korea, the Cambodian government gave us a passport free of charge, so we should get free extensions,” said Chea Vuthy. “We never see the rate of extension. Did the money they took from us flow into the national budget or individual pockets?”

Heng Sony, 27, another worker, said that he was charged nearly $300 to extend his passport last month.

“The charge is too much,” said Heng Sony, adding that Cambodian embassy officials treated the workers badly.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Labour, 2,116 Cambodians worked in South Korea last year.

Heng Sour, director-general of administration and finance at the Ministry of Labour, said that returned workers had complained unofficially about the price of passport extensions in Korea.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said that passport extensions and issuing legal documents for Cambodians through the embassy is free of charge.

“We have no policy for the embassy to charge money from Cambodians for passport extensions,” said Koy Kuong.

“If it is true about charging money, it means that officials take money to put in [their] own pocket.”

Koy Kuong added that ministry officials were contacting the Cambodian embassy in South Korea to question them about the accusation.

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