More Than 1 Million Foreigners Live in Korea

The number of foreign residents in South Korea exceeded the 1 million mark for the first time this year. Citing a national census conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security on Wednesday said the number of foreign residents stood at 1,106,884 as of May 1, accounting for 2.2 percent of the entire registered population of about 49.59 million. That was up 215,543, or 24.2 percent, from 891,341 last year.

The census included 73,725 or 6.7 percent naturalized citizens, and 107,689 or 9.7 percent children of foreigners and naturalized citizens, as well as the 925,470 or 83.6 percent of foreign residents who stayed in Korea for more than 90 days. They also include 89,270 illegal aliens who overstayed their visa.

The number of foreign residents has almost doubled from 536,627 when the count was conducted for the first time in 2006. The increase was due to the fact that 43,703 overseas Korean nationals who now live in Korea were also included in the census for the first time and that the census was conducted more accurately than before using information about registered Korean and foreign residents and their families.

Among about 1.1 million, the largest group came from China with 624,994 (56.5 percent), 443,566 or 71 percent of whom were ethnic Koreans. Korean-Chinese residents accounted for 40.1 percent of all foreign residents here, accounting for 41.4 percent of all unnaturalized foreign residents and 57.6 percent of all naturalized citizens.

Immigrants from Southeast Asia accounted for 21.2 percent, followed by those from the U.S. (5.4 percent), South Asia (3.9 percent), Japan (2.4 percent), Taiwan and Mongolia (2.1 percent), and Central Asia (1.8 percent).

Most, or 65.2 percent, of foreign residents are concentrated in the Seoul metropolitan area, 30.3 percent in Seoul, 29.3 percent in Gyeonggi Province and 5.6 percent in Incheon.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 06, 2009 07:37 KST