The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) raises serious concerns over the human rights and living conditions of migrants in Korea.
The long-standing demands of migrant workers organizations in Korea for better living conditions and social protections have grown louder after the recent death of Sok Heng, a migrant farmworker from Cambodia, working in Gyeonggi Province. Sok Heng’s lifeless body was found inside a vinyl greenhouse where she had been living without appropriate heating despite -16º Celsius temperatures.
The dire conditions that contributed to Sok Heng’s tragedy is not unique. According to data released by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the number of business sites that were given permission to hire migrant workers as of July 2020 totalled 15,773. Roughly one-third (5,003) failed to comply with the minimum standards of dormitories for migrant workers, up from 10.3 percent a year ago. This means roughly one out of three migrant workers are living in vinyl greenhouses, containers or makeshift dormitories that are not furnished with air-conditioning, heating, indoor toilets and/or fire safety equipment. Migrant workers also typically work nine to ten hours a day and are deprived of access to health services.
Most migrant workers are forced to accept these inhumane working and living conditions because they are denied the right to change employers under the Employment Permit System. They are treated like indentured laborers, subject to extreme abuse and exploitation.
Therefore, the Government of Korea must also be held accountable for the tragedy of Sok Heng and the inhumane conditions suffered by other migrant workers in Korea. IMA calls on the government to ensure the human rights, decent work and social protection of all workers in Korea including migrants. IMA supports the efforts of Migrante Korea, Migrant Trade Union of Korea and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to organize Workplace Accident Death Countermeasures Committees for Migrant Workers and to campaign for safe and humane working conditions.###