This is the ninth weekly column provided by the National Pension Service to help foreign residents better deal with their pension plans in Korea. - Ed
Q. I am a migrant factory worker who originally came to Korea legally. After two years of legal work, I now continue to work illegally as an "undocumented worker" at another factory. Here is my concern; in case I am caught by the Korean authorities and get deported, would this negatively affect or result in the Korean government confiscating my pension contributions that I made while I was working legally?
A. Even though you may be engaged in irregularities on Korean soil and if you are caught by the Korean authorities, that is not to cause you any disadvantages in terms of your pension savings. Your pension scheme will be safe and protected in any circumstances, regardless of whether you may have liabilities or, so to speak, commit economic crimes.
The NPS Act clearly states under article 58 concerning the Protection of the Eligibility to Benefits: "The eligibility to receive benefits shall not be transferred, seized or secured." The fact that you were engaged in illegal activities whilst working in Korea does not negate your sole right to claim your contributions.
In addition to this, the NPS is not bound by any other Korean Government Authority or to release your pension information to them on order to cover any legal costs, the cost of your deportation or if applicable any costs incurred from your incarceration. Contributions held in the National Pension Fund are separate from general Korean tax collections or any other compulsorily collected money. NPS contributions have the purpose of giving people to the right to secure a safe old age life, and they deserve the highest level of legal protection.
No matter what happens in your particular circumstance in the future, your right to the pension savings will remain intact. In case you would want a lump-sum refund, you can make an application by sending all necessary documents to the NPS. Please visit our Web site (www.nps.or.kr) for a full list of required documents.