Over the past few weeks, many activists and migrant workers have made a number of solo protests in front of the Presidential Residence of South Korea (the Blue House) to demand amended conditions for migrant workers in South Korea.
South Korea relies heavily on immigrant workers day after day due to Korea’s low birth rate and high aging rate year after year, in addition to the reluctance of Koreans to work in the so-called high-risk sectors or [blue-collar work].
Currently, in Korea, there are approximately 248,000 migrant workers on the EPS [employment permit system] and about 398,000 undocumented migrant workers in South Korea.
Despite this, immigration laws and policies still operate in a hostile manner towards immigrant workers and try in various ways to benefit from them without giving them their rights fairly.
The protesters raised slogans such as
“Migrant workers are not machines or slaves”
“implement work permit system”
“Free job change”
“Allow the entrance of EPS special Re-entry workers “
These protests were in order to criticize the work permit system in which migrant workers are not free to change places of work at will and to urge guarantees of freedom of movement.
In addition, the government must guarantee as soon as possible the freedom to change places of work, which is a fundamental right of migrant workers.
Although the role that migrant workers play in the Korean labor market is very important, Korean society still does not accept immigrants to a large extent, in a recent study published by (The Diplomat), 56% of respondents either strongly opposed or disagreed with the South Korean government, which encourages immigration from Southeast Asia. Only 9 percent agreed or strongly agreed. South Koreans are still reluctant to encourage immigration.
Activists hope that these activities will give the South Korean government the political push to improve the current situation
Darwish Musab/무열 기자 (이주민방송MWTV)