The Korean dream becomes nightmare

Ambassador unhappy over the recent recruitment drive in Sri Lanka
By Sunimalee Dias

Korea has expressed concerns over the clash that occurred last week when job seekers were refused application forms, noting that the situation that day was "pretty bad." Arriving at the distributing centre in Colombo, the Police Park grounds on Tuesday, on receiving information that there was an issue, Korean Ambassador Jongmoon Choi had observed that the situation was "pretty bad."

Scenes at Police Park in Colombo on Monday and Tuesday: Applicants inside the park. Pix by Sanka Vidanagama and Nilan Maligaspe
Candidates had to fill out the application form then and there and hand it over
The scene at the distributing centre in Matara. Pic by Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk

He told the Sunday Times at the venue that this inconvenience "shouldn't happen next year." Korea is also concerned over government requests to increase the number of application distribution centres, pointing out that they received a "strong demand from the Ministry of Foreign Employment to increase the number of the centres distributing application forms."

He noted that in Indonesia and Pakistan there were less than five centres whereas Sri Lanka had increased it from 13 last year to 28 this year. The key attraction for jobs in Korea is the high wage structure with the law stipulating that the minimum payment should be Rs.100,000 with workers starting on this scale being able to earn up to Rs.200,000 within five-six years.

Mr. Choi said he trusted his colleagues working at these centres and emphasized that all Sri Lankan job aspirants would be given a "fair chance" to sit for the test without any conditions imposed. With the demand increasing for jobs in Korea, Mr. Choi said the recruitment system was more complicated now.
The Korean Ministry of Employment and Labour first decides on the number of foreign workers to be recruited for a year. Following this the Korean Govt. invites representatives from countries where workers are recruited for discussions to decide the quota for each country.

"Sri Lanka now has a high quota," he said adding that the Sri Lankan community in Korea "enjoys good reputation among the employers." This, he hopes will result in a continued increase in the number of recruits to Korea with this year's figure topping 5,300.

Meanwhile, Korean Human Resources Development Services Director Kim Kyun - Hyun told the Sunday Times that while there was no political interference he had learnt that job seekers were unable to obtain any application forms on Monday. It is learnt that the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) had not distributed sufficient application forms on Monday, that resulted in the clash.

Following this turn of events, the Korean authorities had held discussions with SLBFE officials and asked them to distribute all applications. But a Bureau official had explained that due to the complicated process in filling the application forms which were collected at the same centres there had been a delay.
The exams are due to be held in October.

5,000 more application forms printed in Colombo

SLBFE had reportedly run out of application forms sent from Seoul, which resulted in the confusion, Mr. Kyun- Hyun said. Following this 15, 000 application forms were re-printed in Colombo with the approval of Korean authorities in addition to the 45,000 provided earlier for distribution among applicants.
Korean Human Resources Development Services in Korea said the SLBFE printed the 15,000 additional application forms due to an increase in demand at its Battaramulla office.

However, it is interesting to note that while the original application forms sent from Korea bear serial numbers, those printed in Colombo have a different number starting from 70001, Mr. Kuyn said.

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