Wansin Bunklang left a tour group hoping to find work in South Korea, and now his family waits for his body to be returned home. (Photo by Surachai Piraksa)
BURI RAM: A dream of a better life for their family quickly turned to tragedy for a couple seeking their fortune in South Korea.
Wansin Bunklang and Orm Wongchan borrowed 150,000 baht from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives last year.
The used 110,000 baht of the loan to repay their debt to a loan shark, and the balance was for their journey to South Korea. They paid 20,000 baht each for a package tour to a country they had never visited before.
“An agent came to us in mid-2017 and convince us to work in South Korea by leaving a tour group after it arrived there, to find a job,” Mrs Orm said.
They departed Bangkok for Seoul on Dec 11, with 40,000 baht in cash to spend during the seven days in the Korean capital – and the hope of landing themselves a job.
Once through the immigration process in Seoul, they left the group as advised by the agent.
Seven days passed, the two were still looking for work.
“After seven days, we realised it wasn’t like we had dreamed it would be,” she said. “No jobs. The high cost of living. Paying for the hotel. And the food wasn’t the same as here in Thailand,” she recalled.
Arriving at a crossroad, her husband Wansin decided to send her home after the week ended, and she left him with 15,000 cash to support himself.
Mrs Orm said she had talked to her husband over the phone every day and learned he had found work – but in a notorious environment which paid little money because the boss knew he was illegally staying in South Korea.
“He told me he wanted to come home. I wanted to help him but I didn’t have the money to pay for a plane ticket,” she said.
Last Thursday, Mrs Orm’s life was shattered. She received a phone call from the Thai embassy in Seoul and was told her husband had committed suicide. (continues below)
Orm Wongchan and her children, waiting for Wansin Bunklang’s body to return home from South Korea. (Photo by Surachai Piraksa)
“Our family was in shock. We did not expect things like this would happen,” she said.
“The family was planning to borrow money again from a loan shark and send it to him so he could buy a plane ticket back to Thailand.”
Now she is left with their three children to take care of, and with the loan from the bank to be repaid.
And waiting for the body of her loved husband to be sent home for his funeral.
“Our dream turned into being hell. There are more Thais working in South Korea being taken advantage of by employers because they are staying there illegally,” she said, and advised other people tempted to go there and do the same to stop and think again.
“I would like to warn other Thais planning to leave a tour to find work there that everything does not turn the way they dream it will.”