More than 10,000 Vietnamese guest workers did not return home last year after their South Korean work contracts expired, an official of Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said.
These Vietnamese nationals, now considered illegal workers, must flee and hide to avoid being caught over their illicit stay in the East Asian country, according to Tong Hai Nam, head of the ministry’s overseas labor agency.
The north-central province of Nghe An topped the list of provinces having unpermitted Vietnamese workers in South Korea, with as many as 1,454 workers not returning to Vietnam upon the expiration of their contracts. Hanoi came in second with 948 people now hiding in the East Asian country.
Hai Duong (853), Thanh Hoa (823), and Nam Dinh (733), all of which are northern provinces, complete the top five Vietnamese localities with the most people illegitimately staying in South Korea, Nam said.
The official added that South Korean authorities have policies to encourage foreign workers illegally staying in the country to return home.
“In Vietnam, the government also exempted civil fines for those who voluntarily returned home from South Korea between September and December last year,” he said.
However, the policy did not seem to work, with only 2,000 such Vietnamese workers going home as of the end of November 2015, according to the official.
Nam also denied reports that Vietnamese people sometimes enter South Korea as tourists and stay illegally to find jobs, referring to the case of 59 Vietnamese visitors reported ‘missing’ during a trip to the tourism island of Jeju last week.
The official said South Korean authorities have caught 28 of them, with three found at a manufacturing facility.
“But the South Korean side did not say that the three Vietnamese are workers at the facility,” he added.
“This is merely an issue of tourism, not illegal labor.”