“Work and make money in Korea,” foreigners say… 70% of SMEs have fallen victim to it

“Boss, he fell down while holding onto a machine.”

Im, 60, was inspecting products in the warehouse when he heard this from a Cambodian employee five years ago. She owns a small plastic moulding company with less than five workers in Mochae, Gyeonggi-do. The Cambodian employees working out of town were like her children. His wife often cooked kimchi and side dishes for them.

The Cambodian employee, Mr A, was leaning against the injection machine. There was no trauma. Lee said, “Let’s go to the car” and “Let’s go to the hospital.” Mr Lee said “no”. When asked if he wanted to go home and rest, he said yes.

He rested the next day and the day after that. Lee asked his Cambodian colleague, who shared a dorm with A, if he had eaten and if he was feeling well. The co-worker had worked in Korea for a long time. He said, “A’s brother works in a factory in Korea, and he’s trying to get him to go there.”

This happened only two months after Mr A came to Korea. Apparently, A was working before he collapsed. A typical employee works eight hours a day and moulds about 500 pieces of plastic. He was doing about 300.

When he couldn’t keep up, he was asked to do a ‘product inspection’. The plastic is used for children’s toys, and there shouldn’t be any sharp edges on the cut, so he scrapes them off with a knife. There were hundreds of plastics in one box, but she only did a few and closed the box. When we delivered them to a toy factory in Yeoju and Icheon, they were all returned.

They said, ‘Come back and do the sorting again. Once, he hired a Korean worker for a daily wage to do the sorting, but it didn’t work, so he brought 3.5 tonnes of plastic to a factory on the road with a shipping fee of 350,000 won. Soon after, Mr A revealed his secret: He wanted a stamp on the ‘change of business’ form.

Foreign workers usually come to Korea on an ‘E-9′ non-specialised work visa. Under the ’employment permit system’, they are ‘matched’ with companies to work for in advance. In principle, they are not allowed to change workplaces. However, as of 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available, 35.1 per cent of foreign workers had changed companies. 22.2 per cent changed employers once, 6.7 per cent twice, and 6.1 per cent three or more times.

The Ministry of Employment and Labour does allow “business change” in exceptional circumstances. A change of workplace occurs when an employee is unable to work due to a closure, closure, or violation of working conditions. An additional exception to this is when the employee agrees to terminate the employment contract.

/Photo=Korea Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

When the Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) surveyed 500 SMEs that had hired foreign workers between 9 and 15 last month, 68 per cent said they had been asked to change their workplace.

Many foreign workers entered the country with the intention of changing their workplace in the first place. Of the 58.2% of SMEs who were asked to terminate their employment, they did so “within six months”. 25.9 per cent said within one to three months메이저사이트, and 8.8 per cent within one month.

When respondents were asked why foreign workers were asked to change jobs, the most common reason was “to work with friends” (38.5 per cent). This was followed by “low wages” (27.9 per cent) and poor working conditions (14.4 per cent).

Foreigners use social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook to share with each other where they work and how they are treated. This is where “brokers” play a big role. They recommend small and medium-sized enterprises that treat foreigners well and advise them on what to do if they want to change businesses.

Brokers encourage foreigners to work for them. This usually starts about two months after a foreigner arrives in Japan, when they get their Alien Registration Card. Once a foreigner receives an alien registration card, he or she is free to engage in outside activities such as tourism.

According to what SME owners have heard from foreign workers, the general consensus among them is that they are paid even if they don’t work in Korea, so once they get their alien registration card, they can “work and earn money while working comfortably.

/Photo=Korea Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises.

33.3 per cent of the responding companies said they had refused foreign workers’ requests to change workplaces, and 27.1 per cent said they had experienced bullying. Twenty-five per cent said they had experienced absenteeism.

Mr B (22), a Vietnamese employee at a small foundry in Seoul, hasn’t come to work since the 29th of last month without telling his employer. He arrived in South Korea in June 2021 and worked one job when he received his alien registration card. He asked for a change of workplace, but the company changed its mind, offering him a dormitory fee exemption and a monthly salary of 3 million won. Mr B started working again about two months ago. The company refused again, and B went AWOL. “If there is no sign that the company will accept the change of workplace, the broker often recommends that the employee go AWOL,” said Imo, 31.

On the 1st, the Central Committee held a discussion on the topic of ‘Changing the workplace of foreign workers, is it okay as it is’. About 20 representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises who have been asked to change their workplaces attended. Initially, the discussion was scheduled to last only two hours from 9:30 a.m., but the moderator ended it close to noon because there were many cases of damage and suggestions that the representatives wanted to share.

Choi Won-chung, CEO of Sungwon A.C Industry, pointed out, “If you don’t like a company that you have a contract with in advance, you should leave for your home country.” 68.4 per cent of SMEs argued that foreigners should be required to work for at least three years once they enter the country on an E-9 visa. 61.2% called for a total ban on changing locations. 75.2 percent said, “There should be incentives for workers who do not change locations.”

81.2 per cent of SMEs said they have difficulty finding replacement workers when foreigners change businesses. “We will recommend to the government and the National Assembly that foreigners should be required to submit documents before entering the country, increase the information disclosed at the interview stage, and leave the country if they do not work for a legitimate reason,” said Lee Myung-ro, head of the Korea Employers’ Association’s Manpower Support Division.


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