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Vietnam Has 10,000 Illegal Workers in South Korea: Official

After the missing tourist fiasco which took place earlier this month, Vietnam has been keeping a close eye on its citizens abroad.

While 28 of the 59 Vietnamese visitors who disappeared from their tour group on South Korea's Jeju Island have been found, Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs announced last week that over 10,000 Vietnamese workers are living illegally in South Korea on expired work contracts, reports Tuoi Tre.

Nghe An province has the most overstayed workers in South Korea, with up to 1,454 failing to return home last year. Hanoi comes in second with 948, followed by the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Thanh Hoa and Nam Dinh.

In an effort to counteract this problem, both the South Korean and Vietnamese governments have enacted policies encouraging workers to leave the country on their own. Last year, Vietnam vowed to waive fines for those who came back voluntarily between September and December 2015. Still, by the end of November, only 2,000 had returned.

Regarding the current search for Vietnam's missing Jeju Island tourists, Tong Hai Nam, head of the ministry's overseas labor agency, denied any allegation that Vietnamese travelers occasionally attempt to enter South Korea as tourists in order to find work illegally within the country. Of the 28 missing tourists already found by South Korean authorities, three were found at a manufacturing facility, however Nam believes this does not prove anything.

“But the South Korean side did not say that the three Vietnamese are workers at the facility,” he told Tuoi Tre.

“This is merely an issue of tourism, not illegal labor.”

[Photo via Flickr user ILO in Asia and the Pacific]

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