North Korea stokes fear, uncertainty for migrant workers on South Korean island


Dananjaya, 23, who shares the dorm with Mohamad and four other workers from Sri Lanka and Vietnam, was married shortly before he moved to South Korea for work in November. He too hopes to use his crab fishing earning to build a house back in Sri Lanka.

He echoed the concern that any armed clashes might dash their Korean dreams.

The pair are among the roughly 10 per cent of the island’s residents who are migrant workers, a key workforce for the crab fishing business, said their employer, Kim Jeoung-hee.

“Without those folks, nothing can work out,” he said. “Koreans are old here so barely no one is riding on ships. Without foreigners, we can’t keep up with our fisheries. I want them to like this place and settle in, but current (geopolitical) circumstances aren’t helping at all.”

Kim said while he was born and raised on the island and can hope that heightened tensions might simmer down eventually, migrant workers new to the island would understandably fear any potential conflict, going through evacuations and firing sounds surrounding them.

“My boss and his wife, they are treating us very well, and Korean people are nice,” Mohamad said. “Yeonpyeong island is beautiful with trees. Everything except the South Korea-North Korea situation.”



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