Editorial

Korea Needs to Organize Immigration as Population Declines

August 04, 2022 13:41
The number of foreign residents in Korea has climbed above 2 million again for the first time in 15 months after falling sharply in the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Korea Immigration Service, their number peaked at 2.52 million in 2019 but plunged in 2021, only to rise again to 2.01 million in May this year. In the past, most foreigners living here worked in factories and farms, but recently there has been an increase in programmers and other highly skilled workers in research and development for start-ups. This is a positive development.Korea's population is declining. It fell for the first time by 0.2 percent to 51.74 million last November, after the number of deaths began outpacing births and the pandemic triggered a decline in foreign residents. This makes it necessary for Korea to prepare for a decline in available workers. The working-age population aged 15 to 64 shrank by 340,000 over the past year.At a time when there seem to be no solutions to the low birthrate, Korea has no choice but to expand immigration. That does not mean it can afford to let everyone in, but it must devise a strategy of choosing what kinds of people are needed in different sectors of the economy and how they can assimilate into society. It is high time to establish a dedicated organization handling the task.At present, the Justice Ministry handles immigration, but the Ministry of Employment and Labor oversees policies on foreign workers and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family handles marriage migrants and multicultural family matters. The Justice Ministry is working to create a separate immigration agency it will oversee, but this is a matter that requires a broad consensus on the national level and goes to the heart of the country's future. Read this article in Korean

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