South Korea's Ambassador to Sri Lanka Woonjin Jeong met with a delegation of 11 Sri Lankan migrant workers representing the first batch of 22 workers who are going to the Republic of Korea post COVID-19.
The meeting took place at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. The Ambassador offered congratulations to the migrant workers and expressed his appreciation for their contribution to uplift the economies of both countries, the Embassy said in a news release.
The Ambassador reiterated the significance of the Sri Lankan migrant workers to the Republic of Korea and emphasized that their precious contribution is a bridge that bolsters the ties between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea. He stated that he had met several Sri Lankan employees in Korea and was deeply moved by their skills and performance.
Approximately 23,000 Sri Lankan workers are employed in Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS). The Ambassador expressed his gratitude towards the Country Director of the EPS centre in facilitating the departure of the Sri Lankan migrant workers amid the corona virus pandemic. The proactive engagement of the EPS centre has led to the first delegation of migrant workers heading for Korea and it has strengthened the strong bilateral relations of the two countries.
Deputy General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment R.K Randeniya who attended the meeting said that since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea in 2004, almost 100,000 Sri Lankans have benefitted from the Employment Permit System.
The Republic of Korea has opened a window of opportunities and a plethora of Sri Lankans have acquired skills and benefits from this programme.
The Ambassador assured the aspiring migrants that the Republic of Korea is maintaining a strong policy of equal pay for equal work which applies to both Korean nationals and Sri Lankan nationals. He expressed his hope to expand the number of Sri Lankan migrant workers recruited in Korea in the near future.
The Ambassador also mentioned that he believed Korea to be the safest country in the world amid COVID-19 before arriving in Sri Lanka. Upon his arrival in Sri Lanka in July, he was impressed by the effective measures implemented by the government of Sri Lanka to deter the spread of COVID-19. Sri Lanka is one of the safest countries to live in at present. He further stated that it is remarkable how there was no single COVID-19 case from Sri Lankan workers repatriated from Korea and Korean residents in Sri Lanka as well.
The Country Director of the EPS Centre of the HRD (Human Resources Development Service) Korea in Sri Lanka also expressed his pleasure in facilitating the departure of the migrant workers as they have been requesting many pleas to expedite their departure. Therefore this delegation is the result of many months of discussions and hard work.
“All Sri Lankan migrant workers are civilian diplomats” on Korean soil, who contribute to strengthening the relations between our countries, the Ambassador said. He presented the migrant workers with masks manufactured by a Sri Lankan social enterprise as tokens of appreciation.