Category Archives: South Korea

187 Thais return from South Korea, US

On Sunday (May 17), 187 Thais from South Korea and the US landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport, four of whom had high body temperature.

All the migrant workers took a Korea Airlines flight from Seoul.

Several officials from different government agencies,  including the Department of Disease Control, were at the airport to welcome them.

Of the returnees, 172 were sent to be quarantined in various hotels, 11 joined the quarantine arranged by the government at different locations and four had to be treated separately due to their high body temperature.

Source: The Nation
Published on 17 May 2020

South Korea, Taiwan extend work visas for stranded Vietnamese workers

South Korea and Taiwan have decided to renew visas for foreign workers including Vietnamese to fill a labor shortage amid the coronavirus outbreak.

There are 48,000 contracted Vietnamese workers in South Korea and 230,000 in Taiwan, but it is not known how many are stranded in the two places after the expiry of their work visa due to the pandemic.

Tran Van Ha, head of the Overseas Labor Management Agency at the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said to help employers suffering from a lack of manpower due to the outbreak, the South Korean government is set to allow those who wish to stay back an additional five months’ stay.

She also said Taiwan would extend workers’ visas by three months.

Taiwan is the second largest overseas market for Vietnamese labor with more than 54,480 going in 2019. South Korea came in third with over 7,200 workers. Japan is the top destination that received more than 80,000 Vietnamese workers last year.

South Korea has reported over 10,800 Covid-19 cases and 255 deaths as of Wednesday morning, while Taiwan has had 438 infections and six deaths.

Written by Dang Khoa
Source: VN Express
Published on 6 May 2020

S. Korea Ensures COVID-19 Tests for Undocumented Immigrants

Anchor: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has addressed the rising concerns of infections in the nation’s migrant worker community. To prevent nearly 400-thousand undocumented migrant workers from falling through the cracks of the current quarantine program, the government in Seoul will ensure medical access, without asking for immigration status.
Kim Bum-soo has more.

Report: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun says undocumented immigrants should be able to get coronavirus tests and related treatments without worries of consequences.

[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)]
“Please strengthen quarantine efforts in areas that have high concentrations of foreigners and make sure they receive face masks and treatments at public health facilities and medical groups, without worrying about their immigration status.”

Some 380-thousand undocumented immigrants are estimated to be in South Korea, outside of the government’s quarantine grid.

During Wednesday’s daily coronavirus response meeting, the prime minister warned that an illegal immigration crackdown is a nonstarter.

[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)]
“Due to their precarious status, it is highly plausible that those with suspected symptoms choose not to visit test centers and they are in the quarantine blind spots that can cause regional infections at any time. But if we drive them to corners and crack down on their illegal status, they will only hide deeper to make the blind spots larger. It is also concerning that this could brew xenophobia.”

Chung pointed to a surge in infections among one million migrant workers in Singapore, mostly at construction sites and in dormitories. This has made the country one of the most infected Asian states after China and India. Additionally, Thailand has seen a large amount of infections among its migrant worker population.

The Health Ministry’s chief quarantine coordinator said the government is also working on ways to protect homeless people during the current outbreak.

The government will introduce its comprehensive plans to reduce quarantine blind spots later this week.

Written by Kim Bum-Soo
Source: KBS World Radio
Published on 29 April 2020

Migrant workers ‘self-isolate’ in crowded homes

Migrant workers staying in cramped accommodations during their mandatory two-week quarantine could pose a risk to South Korea’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, experts and activists said Tuesday.

On Monday, some 20 migrant workers from Myanmar, who arrived in Korea on April 23, were caught staying in accommodation inappropriate for quarantine, with shared kitchens and bathrooms, where strict self-quarantine is nearly impossible, according to the Bupyeong-gu Office.

“It seems like they could not afford to stay at state facilities that charge them as much as 100,000 won per night,” said an official representing the district, adding that all the workers were now in self-quarantine in accommodations prepared by their employers and the Myanmar Embassy.

Starting April 1, the government made it mandatory for those arriving from overseas — both Korean and foreign nationals — to self-quarantine for two weeks either at their homes or at state-designated facilities amid an increase in imported infections.

Foreigners on short-term visas or those with no place to stay in Korea are required to self-isolate at state-run facilities, which cost 100,000 won ($82) per night.

Migrant workers under the Employment Permit System, like the workers from Myanmar, hold long-term visas and must self-quarantine for 14 days at their homes.

But as they usually stay in cramped dormitories they could become athe victims of a new cluster of infections, some activists said, arguing that the government should set up special facilities to house migrant workers ordered into quarantine.

“In fear of the migrant workers carrying the virus, many employers are refusing to accept them into the factory dorms and asking them to return to work after self-quarantining elsewhere,” Ko Seong-hyun, director at the Gyeongnam Migrants Labor Welfare Center, said. “Those who are in between jobs also have nowhere to stay for self-quarantine.”

But it is not easy for them to pay for the two-week quarantine at state facilities, which costs 1.4 million won in total, leading them into low-cost alternatives such as crowded gosiwon and guest houses, he said.

“This could pose a danger to the country’s quarantine efforts,” he said, asking the government to set up a facility where migrant workers can self-quarantine free of charge before they are dispatched to their workplaces.

An official from the Labor Ministry said on condition of anonymity that the government was considering creating a facility that could house up to 100 migrant workers without proper registered homes.

Singapore, which was once touted as an early success in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now has Asia’s highest number of cases after China and India. The surge in infections is linked to its crowded migrant workers’ dormitories, where 12 to 20 men share a single room and live in close quarters.

The health authorities said Tuesday that they were aware of the existing problems and preparing measures through discussions with municipalities and relevant ministries.

There has been some criticism that the Korean government’s quarantine polices are failing to protect foreigners.

Under the country’s mask-rationing system, only those who have subscribed to the national health insurance scheme are eligible to buy masks, leaving out about half of the foreign population here. Foreigners are also excluded from the government’s cash relief programs unless they are married to Koreans.

“If the Korean government were to invite foreign workers to meet a shortage of labor and support the country’s economy, it should also take responsibility for their health,” said Kim Hyung-jin, head of the Gimhae Migrant Human Rights Center.

The migrant workers entering Korea are mostly returning here after spending their holidays in their home countries. An estimated 60,000 migrant workers have entered Korea during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year, the country was set to accept 56,000 foreigners under the Employment Permit System, but no one made it to Korea as of Tuesday due to the pandemic. Only those who had their visas extended earlier are being allowed in the country, according to the Justice Ministry.

Korea runs the EPS to import workers from 16 countries in Southeast and Central Asia to fill low-skilled jobs mostly in the manufacturing, fishing and agriculture sectors. Those jobs are usually shunned by Koreans due to low pay and poor working conditions.

There are currently about 270,000 unskilled migrant workers in the country, including those staying here illegally, according to data from the ministry.

Written by Ock Hyun Ju
Source: The Korea Herald
Published on 28 April 2020

[Thai] Ministry floats ban on workers

The Labour Ministry has warned Thais returning from working illegally in South Korea to report for quarantine or be blacklisted from working abroad in the future.

Labour Minister Chatu Mongol Sonakul said yesterday many were returning from South Korea after authorities there lifted the threat of legal action.

“The government is screening people returning from Covid-19-hit countries, including South Korea. Everyone must be strictly screened at airports. However, some Thais returning from South Korea are not being cooperative,” the minister said.

MR Chatu Mongol said returnees from South Korea must be quarantined in government-specified locations. Those who try to dodge quarantine would be blacklisted and barred from going abroad to work again.

“They may not have been prosecuted for breaking the law in South Korea. But if they do not report as required, the government will not let them work abroad again,” the minister said.

Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 12 March 2020

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