July 28, 2016 10:11
The number of foreigners living in Korea has doubled in the last decade to surpass 2 million, the Justice Ministry said Wednesday.
The exact number of foreign residents was 2,001,828 as of the end of June this year, accounting for 3.9 percent of the total population. The number grew from 500,000 in 2000 to more than a million in 2007 and surpassed 2 million another nine years later. That is an average annual growth rate of around eight percent.
At this rate their number is expected to surpass 3 million in 2021 or 5.8 percent of the population, higher than the current OECD average of 5.7 percent.
Some 74 percent are long-term residents who stay more than 91 days. Five out of 10 are Chinese, and six out of 10 live in Seoul or the surrounding area.
The number of long-term residents has grown mainly to Chinese and other foreigners finding jobs here. In 2000, there were only 58,984 Chinese residents, but that has grown 14-fold to 807,076.
The number of foreigners working in Korea has risen 30 times from 20,538 in 2000 to 608,867. And the number of foreigners married to Koreans has grown from 25,182 in 2001 to 151,820, while the number of foreign students rose from 4,015 to 101,601.
Choi Seo-ri at the IOM Migration Research and Training Center said, "We need to broaden the scope of policies on foreigners, which are currently focused on foreign spouses, so that we can help a wider range of people adjust to life in Korea and ease social conflict."
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