Foreign Workers Return to Ease Labor Shortage

  • By Sun Jung-min

    November 08, 2021 09:03

    Some 50,000 foreign workers are expected to return this month as Korea lifts travel restrictions, helping to ease labor shortages in small businesses, farming and fisheries.

    The government last Friday decided to allow foreigners with work visas from 16 countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to enter the country on condition that they have been fully vaccinated. Arrival caps restricting them to 50 a day or 600 a week will also be lifted.

    Before the COVID-19 outbreak, around 50,000 foreign workers arrived every year, but their number dropped to about 7,000 per year in the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, all foreign workers will have to go into quarantine in a government-run facility for 10 days. Workers from five high-risk countries -- Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines and Uzbekistan -- must show a vaccination certificate and a negative COVID-19 test issued within 72 hours before boarding.

    Workers from 11 other countries, which include Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, can enter the country unless they are tested positive for the virus but must get inoculated here.

    In a survey by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses in September, 729 small manufacturers complained about difficulties caused by a labor shortage.

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