South Korea to Slash Foreign Labor Permits

Permits granted will go from 100,000 to 34,000

South Korea will reduce the number of work permits it approves for foreigners to just one third of last year's figure to safeguard existing jobs amid the global downturn, the labor ministry said.

Officials granted some 100,000 work permits to foreigners in 2008 but that will be cut to just 34,000 this year, the ministry said.

"Not only Koreans, but foreigners who've already been allowed into this country have been losing jobs," a ministry official said. "The reduction in foreign labor is needed to protect job security not only for Koreans but foreigners as well who are already staying here."

As of the end of January, South Korea was home to 700,000 foreign workers, mostly hired on low-level jobs in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors, Yonhap news agency said. They include 200,000 illegals, it said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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