South Korea Becomes Alternative Choice for Lao Job Seekers

South Korea Becomes Alternative Choice for Lao Job Seekers
A group of Lao workers prepare to depart to South Korea (photo: ກົມຈັດຫາງານ)

Laos and South Korea have established a crucial partnership to address Laos’ labor shortage.  The deal aims to attract a growing number of Laotian citizens to South Korea, offering better job prospects and higher wages. This collaboration promises to provide practical solutions to pressing labor challenges for both countries.

With the support from the Lao Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, South Korea has become an increasingly popular destination for job seekers from Laos who are looking to secure jobs abroad with higher wages. 

Despite Laos’ efforts to curb its citizens from leaving the country in search of better job opportunities, the persistently low wages in Laos are the main reason behind this trend. As a result, the Lao government has little to no option but to support its citizens who seek employment abroad. This is to ensure that its citizens don’t enter foreign countries illegally, and they have the opportunity to grow professionally while bringing foreign currency to Laos. 

Laos has struggled to keep up with the continued depreciation of the Lao Kip since 2019. As a result, many Lao citizens are increasingly looking for job prospects abroad, with South Korea emerging as one of the most attractive work destinations after Thailand.

Statistics from KPL showed that between early 2022 and June this year, Laos sent 2600 workers to South Korea, underscoring the increasing preference of Lao workers for South Korea as a destination for enhanced employment opportunities. However, these figures still significantly lag behind those of Thailand, where a total of 96,800 Lao workers were dispatched between March 2022 and July 2023.

On 18 October, Vientiane Province’s Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare initiated a registration process to enter South Korea’s workforce exclusively catering to residents in the province’s Vang Vieng, Thoulakhom, Viengkham, Phonhong, Keooudom, and Kasi districts. This move aims to meet the growing demand for labor in South Korea, especially in the agricultural sector.

According to NikkeiAsia, the East-Asian country has been grappling with a severe labor shortage in manufacturing and agriculture sectors, and foreign workers have become the preferred solution. Korean Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon made a candid statement during a public speech in July, suggesting that immigration is indispensable for South Korea’s future.

In a bid to strengthen bilateral relations, Laos and South Korea inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 14 June. This MOU encompasses a plan to send even more Lao workers to South Korea, with a particular focus on the fishery and agricultural sectors. The collaboration is set to provide Lao workers with the chance to sharpen their skills and expertise under the guidance of Korean farmers.

As the demand for foreign labor continues to surge in South Korea and Lao workers have been showing a growing interest in entering the South Korean workforce, this collaborative effort aims to ultimately be mutually beneficial.