This is the result of a survey conducted from November 2012 to May 2013 by the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Vietnam and the RoK signed their first memorandum of understanding on guest workers under the Korea Employment Permit System (EPS) in 2004, and extended it every two years.
Half of the 63,000 workers Vietnam recently dispatched to the RoK overstayed their visas, prompting the RoK to cease accepting new Vietnamese workers in August 2012.
Vietnam’s 17,000 illegal workers in the RoK is the highest of the 15 countries that have signed guest worker programmes with the RoK.
Around 12,000 Vietnamese workers who have already passed Korean language testing are in limbo while the problem persists.
Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs Director Nguyen Lan Huong said the much higher incomes available in the RoK and a lack of employment opportunities back home, are powerful motivators to violate visa conditions. Korean employers are also evidently willing to use illegal labour.
RoK labour supervision is generally sub par. Fines levied against illegal workers are not sufficient to deter.
Seminar participants proposed improving coordination between Vietnamese and Korean authorities in managing guest workers.
They suggested Vietnam should improve the quality of its guest workers, expand labour management resources, offer more support to returning workers, and establish a representative office of the Overseas Labour Centre in the RoK to increase the efficiency of dispute resolution.
They also said the RoK should tailor the ESP programme in response to current realities, reform redundancy regulations, monitor foreign worker-employing businesses more closely, and punish any found employing illegal workers.