Unfair treatment of foreign farm workers in Korea

It is quite disturbing to see the conditions of foreign farm workers in Korea.

A screen capture of the KBS news feature
A screen capture of the KBS news feature

A few days ago on KBS news, they featured a video concerning the treatment of foreign workers in a rural farm. In the video, it was mentioned that there are 11 foreign workers in the farm who are all Cambodian. In just ten years, the number of foreign farm workers rose from 33 to 24,000. It would be difficult nowadays for a farm to continue its operations without the foreign workers. However, they are being mistreated by the farm owners. A few are assaulted and sometimes they are not given enough meals. And we know that there are cases where they are not being paid correctly. In some instances, female foreign farm workers in Korea are sexually molested. In the video, a drunk farm owner molested one of his female worker.
The foreign workers should be treated humanely, but that is not so in the cases mentioned above. According to the National Human Rights Commission, 75% of foreign workers suffer verbal abuse, 15% have been physically assaulted and 30% have experienced sexual violence.
The number of local labor offices is not enough to supervise the 64,000 workplaces that employ foreign workers. Also, the problem with the current EPS visa is that the workers are tied to their sponsors. They cannot leave their workplace arbitrarily. A revision on the EPS law is needed to protect the rights of the foreign workers in South Korea.


  1. I think something should also be done about the policies of the workers’ home countries – they need to be more protective of the citizens. This reminds me of the Mail Order Bride Law – and the subsequent tightening of marriage license requirements – back home because of domestic abuse suffered by Filipino wives in their adoptive countries. I think Cambodia, Philippines, etc. can lobby and twist Korea’s arm for more protectionist policies. IF not for the workers, a crisis is inevitable in this land of kimchi and kim.

    1. Foreign workers have rights too. I remember last summer, a lawmaker made an informal survey on the conditions of the EPS workers. Hopefully, they could make some revisions to protect the rights of the foreign workers.

Leave a Reply