Vietnam and South Korea Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Exchange of Workers

On June 23rd, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Hanoi, Vietnam, between Dao Ngoc Dung, Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and Lee Jung Sik, Korean Minister of Employment and Labor. This MOU outlines provisions for the sending and receiving of Vietnamese workers to the Republic of Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS Program).

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Vietnam and RoK Signed Memorandum of Understanding on Sending and Receiving Workers
Vietnamese Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung and Korean Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jung Sik hand over the MOU. Photo: Molisa

The Vietnam and Republic of Korea (RoK) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Sending and Receiving Workers. The MOU outlines the responsibilities of the sending and receiving agencies, as well as the process of selecting, referring, and contracting candidates. It also includes preparations before leaving, support for the process of sending and receiving workers, and measures to prevent workers whose contracts have expired from staying in the RoK without voluntarily returning home. The MOU emphasizes the responsibilities of relevant agencies in both Vietnam and the RoK and is valid for two years. This signing continues the labor cooperation between the two countries, which started in 1993 through the cooperation program in labor supply.

Over the years, the RoK has become a key labor market for Vietnamese workers, attracting many to industries such as manufacturing, shipbuilding, information technology, agriculture, tourism, and retail services. The RoK government has adjusted its policies to attract more foreign workers, increasing the quota under the EPS Program and offering favorable conditions for workers in industries such as shipbuilding and agriculture. Vietnamese workers are drawn to the RoK due to its high income potential and cultural similarities. As of June 1, 2023, there are 48,950 Vietnamese workers in the RoK, with an average income of $1,500-2,000 per month.

Vietnam and RoK Signed Memorandum of Understanding on Sending and Receiving Workers
Vietnam’s Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung (right) and Korean Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jung Sik.

The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs of Vietnam and the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the RoK have signed several cooperation agreements over the years to strengthen labor, employment, and social security. The Employment Permit System (EPS Program) was established in 2003, allowing Vietnamese workers to work in the RoK. The close cooperation between the two ministries has resulted in the effective implementation of the EPS Program, providing high-income jobs for Vietnamese workers and contributing to the development of Korean businesses. This partnership has also deepened the relationship between Vietnam and the RoK, elevating it to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Target to bring 10,000 EPS workers in 2023

As of June 19, 2023, Vietnam has sent over 5,423 workers to the RoK. The goal for 2023 is to send 10,000 workers under the EPS Program. Currently, there are more than 33,500 Vietnamese workers in the RoK under the program.

In 2023, the two sides are coordinating to organize a Korean language exam for 23,381 workers who wish to work in the RoK. This is the largest number of registrations for the exam in the past 10 years. The two sides are also collaborating with vocational schools to recruit 300 skilled welding workers, with the RoK granting a target five times higher than in 2022.

Rosie Nguyen