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Another sign of recovery: migrant workers back in fields

Korea JoongAng Daily, South Korea, 8 July 2021 - Counties in rural Korea are welcoming back migrant workers from abroad, who couldn't come to work during the year-long pandemic.

Chili and cucumber harvests are in full swing in Yanggu County, Gangwon, where a total of 193 foreign seasonal workers are working hard. They are the first foreign seasonal workers to enter Korea in two years.

"I haven't been able to work for a while because of the coronavirus, but I'm happy to come back and work in Korea after a long time,” Akrom, a 36-year-old migrant worker from Uzbekistan, said. "I have five family members living in my hometown, two sons, two daughters and my wife, and I'm glad to be able to send 1.3 million won [$1,149] a month."

Akrom used to buy used cars and home electronics from Korea and ship them to Uzbekistan. Then, the coronavirus came.

Choi Ki-hwan, 61 years old, the farmer employing Akrom, looked relaxed after finding the labor he needs.

"Until the beginning of this year, I had lots of worries because I didn’t have any helping hands, but I’m a bit relieved as migrant seasonal workers came in,” he said. “I won’t have to find workers at least until October.”

“We will help to provide workers quickly in towns and counties that are short-handed during the farming season,” Cho In-mook, governor of Yanggu County said.

Yeongyang County in North Gyeongsang, where seasonal workers from Uzbek were also deployed, are busy farming chili, cabbage and herbs.

After spending two weeks in quarantine, the seasonal workers arrived in Yeongyang County on June 24. A total of 112 people were placed on 42 farms.

“We will provide all support for seasonal workers from Uzbekistan to adapt in the region,” said Oh Do-chang, governor of Yeongyang County.

However, seasonal workers are just a dream for many other farm villages.



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