Ask a Korean! News: More Foreigners in Korea Than Ever

2010 is a milestone of sorts for foreigners in Korea. An interesting article about foreigner demographic in Korea, translated below.

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Recently, the squid boats leaving from Ulleungdo often feature the bronze-tanned Southeast Asian laborers. Foreign laborers have reached Ulleungdo, an island with only around 10,000 residents. Ulleungdo hosts 96 foreigners: 50 Indonesians, 19 Korean-Chinese, 16 Chinese, three Japanese and two Americans. Among them, 64 came to Korea to earn money by working on fishing boards. There are also ten marriage-immigrants and two English teachers.

As the number of registered foreigners exceeded 900,000 last year, it was confirmed on the 14th that every one of 228 si, gun and gu has a foreign resident. According to the "2010 Survey of Registered Foreigners" by the Ministry of Justice, Ulleung-gun has the least number of foreigners. Ongjin-gun near Incheon and Yeongyang-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do also have around 100 foreigners. Gyeonggi-do Ansan-si had the most number of foreigners, at 38,971.

The map shows the number of employment visa holders.
The four columns on the right say: marriage immigration, study abroad, 
specialty employment and entrepreneur/investor.
(Click to enlarge)

[TK: A quick explanation about how Korean administrative districts are organized. At the top level, there are do (province), teukbyeolsi (special city) and gwangyeoksi (regional city). Provinces are made up of either si (city) or gun (county). Special city (which is Seoul) and regional cities are made up of gu (district). In other words, si/gun/gu are intermediate unit of administrative district, similar to counties of the U.S.]

(More after the jump)

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The number of registered foreigners as of the end of last year was 918,917, comprising 1.88 percent of the total population. Among them, the most numerous was those who came to Korea for employment, at 530,338. They are followed by: marriage immigrants (141,654); permanent residency (100,355); study abroad (87,486); specialty employment (38,715); entrepreneurs and investors (13,385). In other words, Korea is showing signs of a "developing nation-style" multicultural society in which the vast majority of foreigners are blue collar laborers, marriage immigrants and students with few high-qualification immigrants. More than half (65.1%) of foreigners live in Seoul metropolitan area, followed by the southeast (11.6%) [TK: includes Busan]; Chungcheong (8.9%) [TK: includes Daejeon]; Yeongnam (6.2%) [TK: includes Daegu]; Honam (6%) [TK: includes Jeonju and Gwangju]; and Gangwon/Jeju (2.1%).

As the number of foreign residents dramatically increased, their concentration depends on the purpose of entry. Employment visa holders are concentrated in Seoul metropolitan area (70.1%), and are also prevalent in the southeast (11.1%). Other areas have 4~7%. Dongducheon (648) and Pyeongtaek (524) of Gyeonggi-do had the most number of culture/artist visa holders.

Chungcheong region has the most number of foreign students (18.1%) after the Seoul Metro area (44.1%), as the region's colleges actively recruited students from China. 17.5% of foreign college professors live in Chungcheong, also second after the Seoul Metro area (50.4%). A representative of Gyeongsan-si said, "The twelve colleges around this area jumped into the recruitment of students from China, so we had a large increase of foreign students here."

Foreigners' entrepreneural/investment activity was active in the southeast. There were 4634 (34.6%) foreigners who lived in the southeast for entrepreneural/investment activities, trailing the Seoul Metro area (57.8%). Geoje-si, Gyeongsangnam-do had the most number of entrepreneur/investor visa holders, at 2239. An official from Geoje-si said, "The city has a lot of investors related to the shipbuilding business." Refugees and refugee status applicants, 1,398 in all, were concentrated in the Seoul Metro area. Bangladeshi refugees are mainly living in Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, and refugees from Myanmar mostly live in Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do.

Bangga Bangga, a movie that opened last year, features a young Korean man who gets a job by fibbing that he was "the only Bhutanese in Korea." But there are actually five people from Bhutan in Korea. There are twelve people who are truly the only person from their countries. They are from Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kosovo, Eritrea, Niger, Burkina Faso, Maldives, Djibouti, Barbados, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Swaziland and the Bahamas. Naim Hasoli, a 42-year-old researcher at Korea Institute of Energy Research, said, "Since I am the only one here, sometimes I forget the fact that I am a foreigner. If I met another Kosovar on the streets, I will probably be more surprised."

외국인 안 사는 시군구 한 군데도 없다 [Dong-A Ilbo]

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