The Korea Herald


Korea to accept foreign workers' industrial accident claims via embassies

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : Feb. 26, 2024 - 14:21

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Foreign embassies in South Korea can now process and submit applications from their citizens claiming industrial accident compensation, the Korea Worker's Compensation and Welfare Service announced Monday.

Previously, only the victims themselves, the victims’ direct relatives and certified labor attorneys could apply for compensation on behalf of the victims.

For instance, the bereaved family of a Cambodian woman in her 30s who was found dead while residing in an unheated plastic greenhouse as a farm worker in 2020, filed a claim for industrial accident compensation in 2021. The bereaved family initially wanted to apply for the compensation via the Cambodian Embassy in Korea, since it was difficult for them to come to Korea and apply for industrial accident compensation themselves, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they could not apply for compensation via the embassy under the previous system.

Although her death was recognized as an industrial disaster and her bereaved family eventually received compensation for it, many attempting to apply for industrial accident compensation through the previous system faced difficulties due to language issues and the burden of having to hire a local agent to file their applications here, according to local reports.

However, with the improved system, now staff at embassies and missions in Korea can represent migrant workers for free and apply for industrial accident compensation on their behalf, the agency explained. It is expected that this change will eliminate problems caused by the language barrier, the risk of exposure to illegal brokers who demand high brokerage fees and the cost of appointing representatives, it added.

Data released recently by Statistics Korea showed that the number of foreign workers here reached 923,000 in 2023, up 10.7 percent from five years prior. Also, the number of industrial accident cases among migrant workers rose from 7,581 in 2018 to 9,543 in 2023.

“We will continue to support migrant workers to ensure they are not marginalized when seeking workers' compensation, Park Jong-kil, chair of the service, said.