The miners’ labor contracts were renewed every three years and there were people returning to Korea after their contracts were complete. Yet some emigrated because of Korea’s economic woes and others stayed in Germany, got married to Germans, became students or found other jobs. There were a wide variety of reasons. The nurses’ labor contracts were different. If they could improve their German language skills and show they were good at their jobs in the hospital within the first three years, they could extend their contracts. In fact, they were essentially granted an indefinite stay in Germany. Koreans could take commercial loans of up to 150 million marks from West Germany as collateral for their 3-years of wages. In the end it is estimated that except for pensions and living expenses, the workers sent 70-90% of their salaries home to their poor families. Their hard work and life became the cornerstone of Korea’s economy. A half a century has passed since then.
The Koreans in Germany are no longer miners or nurses who came from a poor homeland. They work hard and diligently in a variety of livelihoods as Koreans and now as Germans. They live their lives in two different languages and cultures and have two different homelands.
(Eun Koung Ko | Korean in Germany, PRIVATE 52, pages 72-75)