Ministry acts over Thai worker’s death

Ministry acts over Thai worker's death

The Labour Ministry will work with the Thai embassy in Seoul to follow up on the case of an illegal Thai worker who was found dead on a mountain in South Korea’s Gyeonggi province.

The body of Boonchu Prawasenang, 67, a native of Khon Kaen, was found early this month not far from a pig farm where he had lived and worked for 10 years in Pocheon city. Boonchu’s employer, a man surnamed Kim, was arrested and charged with concealing the body.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the Thai embassy in Seoul is coordinating with local authorities on the case and finding out about Boonchu’s benefits, such as unpaid wages.

The cause of death has not been established, and it will take two to three works for the official autopsy results, Mr Suchart said. However, local authorities suspect the man died from health issues or illness related to unsanitary living conditions or weather conditions, he added.

According to Mr Suchart, Boonchu was not registered with the Labour Ministry’s Employment Department and was not a member of a fund for Thai workers overseas.

Boonchob Suthamanuswong, the permanent secretary for labour, said labour officials paid a visit to Boonchu’s family in Khon Kaen and learned that his wife and son will travel to South Korea today.

He said the governor of Khon Kaen initially gave Boonchu’s wife 10,000 baht, and as Boonchu was insured under Section 40 of the law, the local social security office would give old-age benefits to his heir.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Kanchana Patarachoke said the Thai embassy in South Korea had contacted Boonchu’s wife to provide assistance.

Mali, 59, Boonchu’s wife, said her husband travelled to South Korea as a tourist and illegally worked at the farm for over a decade. He sent the money home to pay the family’s debts and support their son’s education.

“Our son now has a job in Bangkok. After helping pay off the debt, he asked Boonchu to come home three years ago. Boonchu wanted to earn a little more to build his own farm,” Ms Mali said.

She said her husband planned to return home on March 20. She last talked to him on Feb 28 but was unable to contact him since, so she asked Thai workers to check on him at the farm.

Ms Mali said her family did not have enough money to bring Boonchu’s body home, so they decided to travel to South Korea to arrange a proper funeral service for him and have his body cremated.

“What the family wants is some help from the relevant agencies. We know he worked and lived there illegally, but that was the only choice he had because he had a family to support,” she said.

According to media reports, Mr Kim claimed he found Boonchu dead in the barn where he lived. Afraid of being prosecuted for hiring an illegal worker, he abandoned the body on the mountain.