Sri Lankan workers occupy fifth place in a list of 14 countries whose labour is in demand in South Korea, according to an official from the Korean Human Resources Development Bureau who visited the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau recently.
Mr. Kim Kyun-Hyun, the Director of Human Resources Development stated that a MoU was signed between South Korea and fifteen other countries allowing nationals of those countries entry into the Korean labour market. Sri Lanka is also a signatory to the MoU.
He also stated that 2,000 Sri Lankan nationals had been granted visas out of 5,000 who applied.
Mr. Kim further stated that the Korean companies directly hire Sri Lankan nationals after a strict language screening test and on recommendations provided by other Korean companies in the island.
Large numbers of Sri Lankans have been queuing up to sit the language exam to qualify for entry to Korea.
Mr. Kim said most Sri Lankans work in unskilled jobs but can expect the minimum salary of 4,110 Korean dollars (Rs. 42,744) for a maximum eight hour work shift.
They could be eligible for promotion after they learn the language more fully and appreciate Korean cultural values.
He said the Korean government provides support to Sri Lankan nationals in numerous ways such as providing a return ticket when the visa expires, assistance in the event of injury or falling ill and in the field of salary insurance.
Mr. Kim said Sri Lankan nationals are subject to the same labour practices as Korean nationals and can report to the Korean Labour Ministry in cases ranging from salaries not being paid for several months to physical abuse.
Most Sri Lankan nationals are employed in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors with most companies being located near Seoul.