Seoul City vows more support for foreign residents

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : May 8, 2014 - 21:17
  • Updated : May 8, 2014 - 21:17
Seoul City released Thursday a five-year support plan for foreign residents as part of efforts to better protect their human rights and boost their quality of life here.

As of this year, some 395,000 foreigners reside in the capital, accounting for 3.9 percent of the city’s population.

To secure human rights more effectively, the city established a special human rights team specifically for foreign residents in February, which is the first started by the municipal government in the country.

The team will set up four residence shelters in the city to support homeless foreigners who lost their jobs or face domestic trouble. The city is planning to build a large public shelter later in the future.

The human rights team will also run a legal office for foreign laborers starting next year to assist in lawsuit procedures and prevent unfair treatment or delay in wage payment.

The city will provide more translators to help communication in the local community. Currently, 10 bilingual foreigners accompany foreign residents who seek language support at public offices and local hospitals. Those who wish to use the service may apply at Seoul Global Center.

The city will also recruit translators who have legal knowledge and language ability.

As part of efforts to better reflect foreigners’ voices in policy-making, the city will hold a quarterly meeting of foreign representatives next year.

For non-OECD countries that may have limited budgets, the city will establish an international cultural center in 2018 to provide opportunities for these countries to promote their cultures in the city.

Currently, only 13 countries run their own cultural centers in the capital, including the U.K., Germany, France, Japan and New Zealand.

The city is also planning to offer commission fee discounts on money transfers or currency exchanges after negotiating with private banks here.

A second Seoul Global Center is to open in July in the southwestern part of the city to offer various administrative services such as education courses, legal counseling and medical services. The first center was established in Jongno-gu in 2008, attracting more than 638,000 foreigners so far.

For foreign job-seekers, Seoul City will hold a job fair in September and offer resume counseling and language support.

The municipal government will also establish a comprehensive counseling center for foreign students to help with residence, school life and medical services.

The center, which is scheduled to be built in northeastern Seoul in 2016, will run internship programs that will connect students and private companies.

For women who are marriage immigrants, which account for 12 percent of the total foreign residents in the capital, the city will put efforts into expanding work opportunities such as tourist guides or translators. It will also offer free mental health checkups for mothers and music and art therapy for children.

For students from multicultural families, the city government will provide scholarships ranging from 300,000 won ($293) to 3 million won this year.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (