“This is not to be taken negatively by the locals,” said Lee Chan-young, professor of economics at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, in a telephone interview with The Korea Herald.
“There are not enough Korean hands now for jobs such as picking seaweed in the southern seas or assembling simple machines at factories. Where there are unwanted vacancies, these foreign workers thankfully come in and fill the positions,” Lee said.
In Gwangju and South Jeolla Province, plagued with a low birth rate and aging population, a growing number of migrant workers are taking over jobs that are being shunned by Koreans.
Professor Lee said that the number of foreign workers in the area increased by 10 percent in Gwangju and 14 percent in South Jeolla Province between 2008 and 2015, especially in the districts where the factories are congregated.
“What we should do for them is to stabilize their working conditions so that they don’t haplessly lose their jobs and become illegal migrants,” he said.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)