South Korea: over 200 migrant workers died in 2007

By Kim Tae-jong

A total of 217 foreign workers have died here over the last three years with about half of their deaths attributed to heart attacks and other sudden causes.

Of those, 104 were confirmed to have died from heart attacks, strokes or sleeping disorders, Gwangju Immigration Center at the Borderless Village said, citing data from Samsung Life Insurance which sells policies to migrant workers. Accidents and other factors were attributed to other causes death.

“Such a large portion of sudden deaths reflects poor working and living conditions of foreign workers” An Dea-hwan, head of the center, said. “There should be some countermeasures to prevent such tragedies.” Samsung Life analyzed data from April, 2005 to February, 2008. On top of poor working conditions, the lack of medical treatment resulted in fatalities, An said.  But the official said that the situation could be a lot worse than the official data, considering the cases of illegal foreign workers in even worse conditions.

“The actual death toll could be much higher as illegal migrant workers are not even taken into consideration in these figures,” An said. As of March, there were a total of 230,000 illegal immigrants reported in the nation who remain uninsured.

“They work for too long hours under poor working conditions, 12 hours without rest and seven days a week,” the official said. “They can’t take a shower properly at their flat. Given this, a tragic result is not a surprise.” (The Korea Times)

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