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Thai migrant purge in works

Govt aims to curb illegals in S.Korea

Labour authorities inspect the registration of Thai workers who want jobs in South Korea, in Pathum Thani province last year. (Photo by Pattarapog chatpattarasill)

The Labour Ministry is stepping up measures to curb the growing number of Thai nationals intending to live and work illegally in South Korea, as the number of illegal Thai immigrants in South Korea has soared to 140,000.

The ministry's Department of Employment has told officials at its checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi airport -- set up to weed out Thais suspected of intending to work illegally overseas -- to impose stricter screening measures for passengers flying to South Korea, department director-general, Phetcharat Sin-auy, said.

Despite the tough screening in place, between 100 and 150 passengers travelling to South Korea are denied entry each day and forced to return to Thailand on suspicion of intending to seek to work illegally, she said.

Many of them are well-dressed and too well-groomed to be suspected here of intending to sneak through immigration checks and live and work illegally over there, she said.

Some even have forged documents to back their claims that they were travelling to South Korea to attend professional training courses, she said.

Only when the documents were verified, did department officials at the Suvarnabhumi airport checkpoint discover they were totally fake, she said.

Labour authorities now find it difficult to strike a balance between barring passengers from travelling to South Korea if they suspect them of attempting to work illegally there and preventing themselves from being sued by passengers in the event suspicions prove groundless, she said.

According to the Labour Ministry, the Thai labour attaché in South Korea has expressed concern over the growing number of Thai nationals intentionally living and working illegally in South Korea. As many as 140,000 such people are in South Korea where they can earn at least 50,000 baht a month, which is considered attractive to many Thai workers.

Many people dream of earning a high income such as this in South Korea. However, many of them end up becoming victims of work placement scams after being told by so-called agents to pay large sums of money for bogus work placement services advertised on social media, said Ms Phetcharat.

Her department has been monitoring these illegal work placement services, which has led to arrests in more than 20 cases, she said.

The department is screening work placement advertisements on sites such as Facebook and working with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the police in both blocking these adverts and tracking down the people running them.

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