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Officials Concerned as Vietnamese Laborers Overstay Visas in Korea

Vietnamese labor officials fear that South Korea may stop accepting Vietnamese workers since many have overstayed their visa. 

According to VnExpress, over 16,000 Vietnamese laborers sent to Korea last year overstayed their work visa. In fact, the country has already blocked Vietnamese from a few provinces from applying to work in the Northeast Asian nation this year. 

By the end of last year Vietnam had sent 40,000 workers to South Korea in total, the news source reports. Dang Sy Dung, deputy director of the Labor Ministry's Department of Overseas Labor Management, shared that 39% of these laborers stayed past their visa expiration date. 

"If this problem is not fixed, it is certain that the number of locations to face the blocking will rise, and we even have to face the possibility that South Korea will stop the agreement," Dung was quoted saying.

The government in Seoul is currently recruiting 3,600 laborers for 2017, primarily in the manufacturing, construction, fishery and agriculture sectors, VnExpress shares. Though residents of certain areas of Vietnam cannot apply to work in the country this year, the ban does not cover parts of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces, both of which were devastated by the Formosa environmental disaster last year.

This is not the first time Vietnam has found itself in hot water over workers missing visa expiration dates. In 2012, VnExpress reports, South Korea halted the labor agreement between the two countries because over 50% of workers had overstayed their visa. Cooperation resumed in late 2013 once that figure fell to 38%.

Vietnamese often stay beyond the validity of their work visa since Korea offers better pay and living conditions, the news source shares. For example, a worker in Korea receives a minimum wage of over US$1,000 per month for 40 hours of work each week, while the base wage in Vietnam is only around US$150 per month for longer work weeks.

[Photo via The Nation]

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