June 12, 2018 12:24
The number of foreign residents who are eligible to vote in local elections has surpassed 100,000, reaching critical mass for politicians to woo them.
Some political groups even believe that they could sway the vote in areas where they are concentrated.
Qualified foreigners were given the right to cast their ballots in local elections in 2006 and include anyone who has lived here for more than three years, acquired permanent residency and is over 19.
Their number has tripled from 6,726 in 2006 to 106,205 now.
The vast majority or 76.5 percent are ethnic Koreans from China. Korea began issuing entry visas to ethnic Korean Chinese around 10 years ago, which led to a huge influx. Also, Chinese citizens who invest more than W500 million in Korean real estate are granted permanent residency (US$1=W1,076).
When the measure was first adopted, 99 percent of them were Taiwanese citizens, but now they account for only 10.8 percent. Japanese account for 6.4 percent, Vietnamese for 0.9 percent and Americans for 0.8 percent. Around a fifth are foreign women who married Korean men.
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