From the ground: South Korea. Migrants: the SDG 18
James Jose cmf, Seoul South Korea cmf
St Claret Migrant Ministry
Local Situation: South Korea has been importing a number of Migrant workers since the early 1990s and the majority of them are unskilled migrant laborers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Cambodia. The demand for foreign migrant workers has largely come about as better educated and wealthier Koreans began to give up certain occupation categories, especially the so-called 3-D (difficult, dirty, and dangerous) manual Jobs. The percentage of migration to South Korea is increasing further as the anticipated bride’s shortage brings in more migrant women.
Recently, there is a good number flow of Refugees also begun to South Korea, especially from Syria, Egypt, Africa, Pakistan, Myanmar, and China. Incheon diocese situates the Northwest side of Korea which is very close to the Sea and the second largest port of Korea through which a good number of Refugees enter to South Korea.
Incheon area is a city in South Korea that is an Industrial area with lots of companies with a large number of migrant workers and refugees both legal and illegal. There are lots of migrant workers, both Legal Migrants and Illegal Migrants, refugees, separated and abandoned foreign wives, and multi-cultural children in the Incheon area specially Bucheon. These migrants and refugees have scattered in different areas of Incheon and very often the place they work and live is not well established and secure.
Many of them do not have proper shelter and accommodation and most of them dwell in Iron containers. These migrant workers face lots of problems both in the company and outside. At present many are temporary and illegal workers and once they lose their job they have to go out of a company and they have nowhere to stay. So there are also migrants and refugees without any proper legal documents, accommodation or shelter. It is also very hard to get a Job for illegal migrants and refugees.
Short History of Ministry among Migrants and refugees by Claretian Missionaries
Claretian Missionaries of Korean Delegation began a new community and a migrant center with two priests and three lay Claretians in a very small building in the German, Incheon Diocese in 2015 to support and to take care of the Homeless migrants and refugees in the nearby areas. The basic purpose of the community and center was to provide sheltering, accommodation, counseling, medical and legal assistance, and pastoral care. In the beginning, we have regularly visited the nearby areas of Germany where the migrants and refugees stay (Stay in Iron container which has no basic facility) and communicated with them about our presence in the area and our assistance, and also about our shelter center.
Through regular contact, we could talk to them and made a good relationship and organized them in the nearby basketball court where we used to play with them every weekend. Almost within six months, we could find many scattered Migrants and Refugees in the nearby areas of Germany without proper accommodation and shelter. Later we rented two small rooms where we could only accommodate a maximum of 6 people in Ojongdong, for the legal, illegal, and Jobless migrants and refugees. Now, Every Sunday we have the English mass for all the Migrants and refugees in the nearby Korean parish. But still, there are many places in Inchon where the Refugees and migrants are scattered and unorganized.
Present Mission of Claret Migrant Centre
At present we have engaged our Ministry among 250 Migrants from 14 Countries that is Philippines, Vietnam, Srilanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, Columbia, Nigeria, Thailand, Ghana, Kazakhstan, China, and Russia.
Pastoral Service: Every Sunday we regularly go to different Parishes to have the Holy Eucharist, confession, and recollection in the English language for the migrant people, especially for Philippinos and Vietnamese migrants.
Counseling: At present Claret, Migrant center provides counseling for migrant Labourers as well as to the families, especially Migrants from the Philippines, Vietnamese, Peru, and Bangladesh, on Salary, Employment, Divorce, and marital violence in different places like Seoul, Inchon, Ansan Yankuk and Ujongdong. We also provide legal support and consultation and guidance on the matters of Labourers Payment and Retirement.
Legal Support and Consultation: we provide legal aid on Violation of Human Rights and Immigration Problems, divorce compensation, Family violence, Delayed and Non-payment of wages. We have three legal experts who are freely serving in our community to support the Migrants and also for translation.
Medical Support & Hospital assistance: Health Consultation and Medical insurance and Treatment is provided to them and also accompany them to hospital in emergency for the undocumented.
Shelter Centre: We had begun a Temporary Shelter center for Women on the third floor of our community with 15 single rooms in August 2015 in Bucheon in Inchon Diocese, in order to support foreign workers and migrants to provide a temporary stay for three to six months.
Supporting, caring, and sheltering the abandoned foreign Brides and other women: There is a lot of bride’s shortages in Korea and many girls are brought to Korea from foreign countries by marriage but the relationship will be broken after a short period of time and the girls become abandoned. Intercultural marriage among Foreigners also can cause in separation and finally result in the abandon. There are also a good number of foreign women engaged in prostitution, working forcefully in Dance bars and Massage parlors, and also the victims of direct and indirect human trafficking.
Organizing Small migrant communities. In many areas of Inchon, migrants are organized but still, there are a lot of migrants scattered in different places without any pastoral care and legal support.
Special Care to Illegal Migrants: Since there are a lot of Illegal migrants working in Korea, they cannot be legally incorporated into Korea in the future. They hide and work in many Companies without proper legal documents. So there will be chances for them to be exploited.
Violation of human rights: we are also supporting and caring for people for their rights either in the workplace, society, or in the family.
Caring Multicultural Children: Giving them Korean cultural support by animating them in our community
Korean Language Class & Cultural Support: Teaching the Korean language for minimum daily use and basic training and orientation to adjust to Korean culture and tradition.
Technical assistance: Make use of the Center for technical assistance to find a job, training in bread-making, and self-supporting and income-generating works.
Free supply of food items and Cloths and basic necessities: We also provide a free lunch to all the Migrates every Sunday and also supplies Rice and vitamins.
Free Medical Camp on Every Month: we arranged the medical camp in our center every month in association with the Catholic St Mary’s hospital Seoul.
Separate Mass for Vietnam communities: Every last Sunday of the month we have a separate Sunday mass for the Vietnam community.
Fr. James Jose, Seoul South Korea cmf
St Claret Migrant Ministry