Korea’s Employment Permit System and Wage Development of Foreign Workers
Jiehyun Roh

The South Korean government started to actively accept foreign workers under the Industrial Trainee System in the early 1990s, and the foreign labor force import policies that had been implemented in various forms were integrated into the Employment Permit System beginning in 2004. In principle, foreign workers can legally work in South Korea for up to five years, and have to return to their own countries after their contract period. Foreign workers can be broadly classified into E-9 visa owners who are from Southeast Asia and H-2 visa owners who are descendants of Koreans who emigrated to China (especially Manchuria), Russia, and Central Asia from 110 years ago. The case of the former is called “non-professional employment,” while the latter is called “visiting employment.” In this paper, the 2011 and 2013 wage data of the visiting employment worker (H-2) recruitment database on the homepage of the Human Resources Development Service of Korea were compared. Based on this, the changes in wages in each industry (i.e., each specific business type) were examined. The most noticeable finding is that the wages in the manufacturing and service industries generally decreased while the wages in the construction industry increased. Wages in the service industry generally showed a decreasing trend, but increased in some specific business types. For both the agriculture and livestock and fishing industries, wages decreased in 2013 compared to 2011. The fact that the wages of H-2 visa owners, whose quality of labor is thought to be similar to that of South Koreans, generally decreased with time could have negative effects on South Korean workers (locals).

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ppar.v2n3a3