Amid a labour crisis, South Korea turns to migrant workers. Why are they more likely to die on the job?

Changes to the labour law make it more difficult for migrants – mostly from Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia – to transfer out of workplaces to which their visas are tied.

In Bangladesh, Ajit Roy graduated from college with a chemistry degree, hoping to become a doctor or civil servant. But a run of bad luck derailed those dreams, sending him to look for work overseas.

He wound up at a farming machinery factory in South Korea. Six days a week, over shifts as long as 12 hours, he stood in front of a rack of metal cylinders, degreasing their surfaces with paint thinner and buffing them with a handheld grinder.

It wasn’t long before he began to have trouble breathing, and after nine months on the job, he found himself unable to walk without gasping for air. A doctor diagnosed him with a deadly lung disease that testing later suggested was related to his job.

In full:

Related Stories

Latest News