The government is reviewing plans to form an organization focusing on issues arising among foreigners in the country, including immigrant workers and multicultural families.
In a luncheon celebrating the opening of an immigration research center on Tuesday, Seok Dong-hyeon, commissioner of the Justice Ministry's Korea Immigration Service, said the ministry is considering establishing an external agency to serve the increasing foreign population in the country.
Although he pointed out that there aren't any concrete plans at the moment, the commissioner highlighted the need for an immigration agency dedicated to formulating policies concerning various immigrant issues.
Data from the justice ministry shows that some 1.17 million foreigners reside in Korea. Excluding international students and short term visitors, the ministry estimates about 92,000 foreigners have the potential of settling in the country.
When people thought about the word "immigration" before, it was usually associated with Koreans going to live abroad, Seok said. But things are much different now, and foreigners coming to live in Korea is very much a reality, he added.
If the country fails to come up with adequate immigration policies, Korean society will be faced with greater difficulties in the future, he said.