Number of Vietnamese job seekers taking Korean proficiency test hits 10-year high

The test is part of a two-stage exam required for Vietnamese people seeking to enter Korea for employment.

Choi Jae-hee

Choi Jae-hee

The Korea Herald


Foreign workers board a chartered bus at Incheon Airport (Yonhap)

May 11, 2023

SEOUL – A Korean proficiency exam for Vietnamese job seekers saw the highest number of test takers in 10 years, data showed Wednesday.

This year, a total of 23,412 Vietnamese applied for the “EPS-TOPIK (Employment Permit System’s Test of Proficiency in Korean),” more than doubling from 11,600 applicants a year earlier. The 2023 figure was also the highest in a decade, according to the Department of Overseas Labor under Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The EPS-TOPIK is part of a two-stage exam required for Vietnamese people seeking to enter Korea for employment. Once they pass the EPS-TOPIK, they must take a vocational skills test which includes a physical examination, a test to evaluate their job skills and an in-depth interview. The minimum score to pass the EPS-TOPIK is 80 points out of a possible 200.

Launched in August 2005 when the two countries agreed on implementing the Employment Permit System, the two tests are hosted by the Human Resources Development Service under the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor. The Vietnamese government oversees the local process of recruiting applicants and issuing them the test certificates.

The EPS is the Korean government’s labor migration scheme with a focus on the manufacturing and fishery industries. The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with 16 countries to provide workforce stability in local industries suffering from severe labor shortages and to control the illegal employment of foreign nationals here.

The licensed employment program, held annually between July and November, recruits foreign workers from different industry sectors, including manufacturing, construction and fishing. The majority of Vietnamese workers (19,228) applied for the manufacturing sector this year, while the construction and fishing industries saw 340 and 2,558 applicants, respectively.

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