OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 14 , No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 1-41
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jul 2023
Received 27 Sep 2022 Revised 24 Dec 2022 Accepted 24 Jul 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14431/omnes.2023.07.13.2.01

From Legal Immigrants to Undocumented Workers: A Case Study of Vietnamese Migration Families in South Korea
Thi Thanh Lan Nguyen* ; Van Cuong Nguyen ; Natalie Thibault ; Julia Jiwon Shin
*Department of Liberal Arts, Wonkwang University, South Korea
*Department of Korean Studies, Phenikaa University, Hanoi, Vietnam
Department of Nursing, Hanyang University, South Korea
Department of Liberal Arts, Wonkwang University, South Korea
Chonnam National University


Abstract

This qualitative study aims to explore the reasons and realities of legal immigrants who participate in large numbers in the undocumented workforce of South Korea. Applying the theory of push-pull factors of migration, the study distinguishes illegal immigrants from legal immigrants who work without legal permission (undocumented workers). Through the analysis of the process of becoming undocumented workers, as well as individual experiences, the study highlights that the main reasons that family members of migrant families engage in illegal work are not only financial struggles related to family support, debts, or remittances to Vietnam, but the factors of migration networks, employers, and institutional policies. The findings reveal that low wages, long working hours, and discrimination are realities immigrants face in the process of working without a permit in South Korea.


Keywords: undocumented workers, family migration, network, Vietnam, South Korea, push-pull factors

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Biographical Note

Thi Thanh Lan, Nguyen Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Architectural Engineering, Wonkwang University, South Korea, and at the Department of Korean Studies of Phenikaa University, Vietnam. She holds a Ph.D. in International Studies from Chonnam National University, a Master’s Degree in International Development Studies from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Vietnamese Studies from Vietnam National University. She has pursued additional specializations in international migration, ethnic and Multicultural studies, gender, human rights, international relations, and East Asianommunities and diaspora. Her current research focuses on International Migrations (Illegal Workers, International Students, Immigration Women and Children, Family migration, and the Mental Health of Immigrants) and Ethnic Communities in South Korea and the U.S. E-mail: thanhlan21@wku.ac.kr or Alisanguyen082@gmail.com.

Van Cuong Nguyen Ph.D., Researcher, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, South Korea. Email: nvc11vn@gmail.com

Natalie Thibault Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, Wonkwang University, South Korea. Email: natalie@wku.ac.kr

Junia Jiwon Shin. Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chonnam National University, South Korea and University at Albany, State University of New York, U.S. E-mail: juliashin@jnu.ac.kr