Cambodian workers spend lives of indentured servitude on Korean farms

Workers paid less than minimum wage for 12-hour days and dismal living conditions.

The woman’s face brightened when the strong aroma of the dried fish reached her nose. It had been a while since Peukka (pseudonym) had tasted pollack.

Dried pollack is a popular side dish in Peukka’s home of Cambodia, with a similar flavor profile to Korean jwipo, a seasoned jerky made of filefish. The fish can often be seen dangling above Cambodian marketplaces, strung up on lines. This is the “soul food” that this 45-year-old eats whenever she feels homesick. She’s been in South Korea for eight years now, doing farming work.

I’d met the Cambodian in a shipping container inside a greenhouse in a Seoul suburb. “We have to work even when we’re sick. We can’t take a break when we have a cold. The best thing to do when I’m feeling sick is to have some pollack and some watery rice,” Peukka said, as she flipped over the pollack in a frying pan.

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