Thousands of people flocked to high schools across Phnom Penh over the weekend to sit for a Korean language test in the hopes of finding higher-paying work in South Korea, students said Sunday.
According to a schedule released earlier this month by the Labor Ministry, which organized the exams, students were tested at seven schools Sunday and Saturday.
At Chaktomuk Junior High School in Daun Penh district on Sunday, Thorng Boreth, 29, from Kompong Speu province, said he aimed to land a job in South Korea at a factory producing mobile telephones or furniture.
“My neighbors, who get money from their children currently working in [South Korea], told me that if I worked there, I would get at least $1,000 per month,” he said. “I used to work as a sewing machine technician at a factory in Takeo province. There, I only got about $200 per month.”
Mr. Boreth said he spent $50 on a six-month crash course in Korean at a language center on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, then paid a $24 fee to South Korea’s Labor Ministry to take the language test Sunday.
Another hopeful at Chaktomuk Junior High School, Chheang Kunthea, 22, from Kandal province, said her sister had found work in South Korea, and persuaded her to attempt to follow suit.
“Currently, she gets $1,300 per month from her work shaving pig hair,” she said. “She can send $1,200 home every month, while her workplace pays for accommodation and food.”
Working at a garment factory in 2013, Ms. Kunthea said, she had earned just $100 per month.