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August 1995, Volume 2, Number 8

Illegal Workers in Korea

There were 78,852 foreign workers in Korea in April 1995, including 54,300 illegal workers who arrived with tourist visas and failed to depart, according to the Korean government. Most illegal workers are from China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan. Another report said there were 130,000 foreign workers, about 100,000 of them illegal.

Immigration laws have now tightened so that immigrants wanting illegal entry have to pay about a million won (US $1,200) in brokerage fees.

In May 1994, the Korean government launched a trainee system under which up to 25,000 industrial trainees from abroad could work and learn in Korea. Trainees are paid about $200 per month, and they have few rights under Korean labor law. Abut one-fourth of the trainees abandon their jobs, and illegally go to work for wages of $400 to $600 per month.


"Hard Times for Illegal Workers in ROK," Mainichi Daily News, June 15, 1995. Ichiro Ue, "South Korea faces illegal worker problems," The Daily Yomiuri, June 8, 1995