April 09, 2010 07:18
Times are changing in Seoul's Yeongdeungpo, which is home to some 38,000 Korean Chinese. Over 80 job agencies cater to them near the Daerim subway station in the district, with jobs offered including manufacturing or construction work, cattle shed cleaning, kitchen and domestic work.
"The number of jobs we arrange has decreased 20 to 30 percent from a year ago," one agent said. "An increasing number of Korean Chinese are avoiding temporary jobs or hard labor such as kitchen work."
The ethnic Koreans from China used to work in the so-called "3D" sector -- for difficult, dirty or dangerous -- but now they are more reluctant to do so. "In the past if we saved W500,000 (US$1=W1,124) per month for five years here, it was enough to lead a comfortable life in China for the next 50 years. So we were able to endure no matter how hard the work was," one local says. "But now with the soaring value of the yuan, if we make W1 million a month, there's nothing left after we pay the rent and living costs, so there's no reason to do hard work."
Now Korean Chinese prefer jobs in the service or manufacturing sectors that offer a comparatively clean working environment. Women prefer working as live-in maids or caregivers for patients to slogging away as kitchen hands. Also, work in the metropolitan area is more popular. "These days they come here with their families and they want to spend weekday nights or weekends with them," a recruiter said. "So they're reluctant to go to work in the provinces."
As Korean Chinese are less willing to take the tough jobs, some sectors face increasing difficulties finding workers. "We used to have a lot of Korean Chinese workers, but now it's hard to find people who want to work here, leading to labor shortage," said a factory owner in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. "Only illegal immigrants are willing to come and work here."
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