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Pakistani workers in South Korea

28 December 2022

In recent years, South Korea has been encouraging Pakistani workers’ employment in South Korea under its Employment Permit System (EPS) on E9 visas. By the end of November 2022, the number of Pakistani workers who have entered Korea through the Employment Permit System (E9) has exceeded 1,600.

The E9 Employment Permit System (EPS) allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Korea that are unable to find a local workforce and allows them to legally employ non-professional or semi-skilled workers from abroad.
The Pakistan EPS Center is cooperating closely with Pakistan’s Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) for smooth recruitment and prompt entry of Pakistani workers into Korea. The EPS Center is currently aiming to achieve its target of 2,000 Pakistani workers entering Korea by the end of the year 2022.
In total, approximately 13,000 people have legally entered South Korea from Pakistan in the past 15 years since the establishment of the Pakistan EPS Center through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2006. The number of Pakistani workers entering South Korea this year exceeds the number in previous years.
Pakistani workers have given a good impression to South Koreans with their due diligence and sincerity in work. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Pakistan Suh Sangpyo has proposed to his government to additionally incorporate the construction sector as a viable occupation alongside the existing manufacturing sector within the EPS-E9. It would facilitate the employment of more Pakistani workers, and give them enhanced opportunities to find employment in South Korea. The quota for Pakistanis to work in South Korea was significantly increased this year. Now, the number of applicants for the EPS-Topik is also expected to increase up to 1,600 workers.
Within the Employment Permit System (E9), workers from as many as 16 nationalities are employed in South Korea. Over the last 18 years, the South Korean authorities believe that foreign workers have played a strong role in alleviating the labour shortage of Korean SMEs, and have contributed to a balanced development of the Korean economy. The sixteen countries include Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and East Timor.
Currently, there are about 253,000 foreign workers in Korea through the Employment Permit System. Among them, the number of Pakistani workers stands at 3,200. In particular, Pakistani workers have given a good impression to South Korean business owners with their due diligence and sincerity to their work and employers. It is expected that more people from Pakistan will be employed in Korea in the coming years.
As of 2022, the Pakistani community in the Republic of Korea (ROK) stood at approximately 12,440 according to the Korea Immigration Service. It comprises workers, businessmen, traders, students, and professionals. Most of the Pakistani expatriate population arrived in Korea in the late 1980s and 1990s.
There are about 408 businessmen, engaged in businesses such as the export of fabrics, blankets, carpets, used machinery, export of used cars and restaurants, surgical equipment, travel agencies, mobile phone shops, heavy machinery equipment, and printing.
Approximately 1,327 Pakistani students are studying in leading universities in Korea, having excelled in their fields such as science, medicine, IT, and engineering. Most of them are here on university-funded, departmental or professor-funded scholarships, while some are on Higher Education Commission (HEC) scholarships. Pakistani students have graduated and gone on to join leading South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and other leading companies locally as well as abroad. Pakistani professionals, although a handful, are working in leading corporations such as British-American Tobacco, General Motors, Samsung, LG, and Shipbuilding Companies.
Additionally, 2023 is set to mark the 40th anniversary of South Korea-Pakistan diplomatic ties, and various events in the field of public diplomacy are being envisioned by the Korean Embassy in Pakistan. The University College Cork Contest for the successfully returned workers will be held in 2023. It will uncover success stories of Pakistani workers who worked in Korea, the experiences they had and how their lives changed after successfully returning from South Korea.
In the future, as a public institution dedicated to the Employment Permit System, which is aimed at providing one-stop support for the entire process from selection and introduction of foreign workers to their stay in Korea and their eventual return. The Center is aiming to implement the Korean Proficiency Test (CBT) method which will further enhance the selection process of foreign workers by promoting the transition from computer-based testing to the digital-based UBT (Ubiquitous Based Test). The UBT (Ubiquitous Based Test) is a test method that can be conducted anytime, anywhere, regardless of physical location, using a mobile tablet device based on a wired or wireless network environment.



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