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Working Holiday may pose unexpected risk to unprepared travelers

Working Holiday may pose unexpected risk to unprepared travelers

Posted November. 27, 2013 11:02,   


A 23-year-old Korean woman who was participating in the Working Holiday program was killed in Australia. This woman identified by her surname Ban was found dead with her head severely injured, at 4 am on Monday in a park downtown Brisbane. She went to Australia on Oct. 16 with a Working Holiday visa. The woman who worked as a janitor was brutally murdered on her way to work at 3 am that day.

The Working Holiday program, which was first introduced in 1995 upon an agreement with Australia, supports young Korean people aged between 18 and 30 to work and travel for one year in Australia. Now, 17 countries including Canada, Japan, Great Britain, New Zealand, Taiwan and Germany have joined this program. Last year, about 48,000 young Koreans went to these countries with a Working Holiday visa. 70 percent of them, 3,4000, are in Australia.

However, it is not easy to get a job in foreign countries. For those who do not speak fluent English, it is even more challenging. They should sometimes endure doing cleaning work or dishes. Even if you were lucky enough to get a job in a factory, the pay would be poor, compared to the hard work. There is a saying, “Early training means more than late learning.” However, going overseas through this program without appropriate preparation is not only challenging but also risky.

Foreign countries are not paying much attention to the safety of these young people. Unlike students and resident employees, people with a Working Holiday visa do not have a consistent residence in a foreign country because they work various part time jobs. Living in an unfamiliar foreign country is tough. Being left in the blind spot of security may entail serious consequences. Some people with a Working Holiday visa get involved in traffic accidents or theft cases or get out of contact. Sources say sexual harassment cases are often reported as well.

The Korean government should revise the program in coordination with member countries, to prevent people with a Working Holiday visa from being exposed to safety risks. The U. S. WEST program, which is similar to the Working Holiday program, limits its participants to 200 and involves sponsors who can provide internships. Korean embassies and consulates should also pay attention to young Koreans with a Working Holiday visa. Otherwise, the Working Holiday program aimed at encouraging the pioneering spirit of young people might turn into a “working horror day.” We should not let this happen.