South Korea's textile workforce has dropped off by nearly half in the past five years as more companies have fallen victim to bankruptcy or moved production offshore.

According to the Korean Apparel Industry Association, a total of 33,011 people were working at its 279 member companies at the end of last year, down 48.7 per cent year-on-year from 64,395 workers at end-1998.

Other factors cited by the association for the decline were company restructuring and the increasing unpopularity of hard labour manufacturing jobs.