Korea looks to lure foreign talent

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Korea looks to lure foreign talent

The Korean government said it will unveil a plan by the end of the month to attract international talent to the country to respond to the fourth industrial revolution and the change in demographics.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said Friday that the Korean government will select foreigners to come to the country based on their abilities and wages. The focus of the plan is to attract workers with strong educational or career experiences.

“The importance of having more foreign workers in the country is growing rapidly as the demographic changes are occurring such as low birth rate and aging society, and demands for talented people ahead of the fourth industrial revolution continue to grow,” Choi Sang-mok, Korea’s vice finance minister, said at a meeting at the Seoul Central Government Complex on Friday. “Small and midsize companies are also having hard time finding workers as well.”

The number of foreigners living in Korea rose significantly from 1.4 million in 2011 to 2.05 million in 2016, the Finance Ministry said. However, the number of professional foreign workers in the country remained practically unchanged at 48,000 in the same period, the ministry said.

The government also plans to give helps to local companies finding talent from overseas, while also helping Korean students studying abroad come back to the country and find jobs.

“We will also have spouses or family members of foreign workers coming to Korea to have chances to work in the country, while reducing some of the inconveniences they run into in the country such as when having medical and educational services,” said Choi. A Finance Ministry official added that the final plans to attract professional foreign workers will be announced by the end of this month.

The government officials also discussed ways to boost domestic consumption through cultural activities available in the country at Friday’s meeting.

The Finance Ministry has designated the last Wednesday of every month as cultural day when visitors can receive discounts at various cultural activities, including movies and exhibitions. The government plans to expand the discount program to bookstores, sports and traveling.

The number of people going to movies on the cultural day, in particular, rose 26 percent year on year from 6.15 million in 2015 to 7.74 million last year. Sales during cultural days at theaters rose 20 percent from 40.5 billion won ($35.6 million) to 48.5 billion won in the same period.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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