Thousands of Thais becoming "Little Ghosts" in South Korea
So many Thais are now going to work illegally in South Korea that they have been given a name.
The term used is "Phee Noi" or little ghosts.
These are people who respond to ads online for work in South Korea. And it is not just massage and the sex trade that is attracting workers - they are taking advantage of easy entry to the wealthy country to work in jobs such as packing or the agricultural sector.
Sanook reported that it is easy for Thais to get a monthly salary of 50,000 baht, and possibly a lot more, by working in South Korea.
Sanook reported on the emergence of the phrase "Phee Noi" after stories on Facebook from guides of people on their tour groups.
No sooner had they passed through immigration than they were off to work leaving the real tourists behind.
Sanook said it was an increasing difficult problem for bona fide tourists who were sometimes refused entry to the country and turned back to Thailand because of the actions of Phee Noi.
Thais are easily able to get into the country on a 90 day tourist visa exemption. Many then disappear to work illegally.
It has been reported recently that 20,000 are deported annually for working illegally and at any one time there are thought to be many times that figure in the country illegally.
Sanook showed ads from websites that advertised daily work in menial agricultural work paying 60,000 to 80,000 won a day (around 1,800 to 2,200 baht a day). One ad said there would be free food, money paid every three days, a kind boss, work everyday - except when it was raining.
Another ad said that applicants could get around 1.5 to 1.6 million won a month. They would have two days off a month, free accommodation, food supplied, wifi and a good boss.
Contacts are being made through Facebook and the Line application.
Sanook reported that while some women were earning up to 100,000 baht a month in the massage trade a great deal more others were earning at least 50,000 baht in jobs such as piece work or packing.
Such salaries would be impossible for most people in Thailand.
Labor department officials in both Thailand and South Korea are liaising on what to do about the illegal workforce now in the country, said Sanook.
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