Exodus from Seoul Continues

  • By Jung Ji-sup

    September 18, 2019 10:25

    The population of Seoul is expected to fall below 10 million by the end of this year as residents move out into the suburbs where property is more affordable.

    The city's population first surpassed the 10-million mark in 1988, but the Seoul Metropolitan Government said Tuesday it is expected to fall below either at the end of this year or during the first half of 2020.

    It currently stands at 10.05 million. In 1953, just after the Korean War, it was only 1.01 million but reached five million in 1970 and peaked at 11 million in 1992.


    Already in 2016 the population dropped to 9.94 million, but it soon recovered again above 10 million due to a steady influx of foreigners. Until the 1980s, fewer than 10,000 foreigners lived in Seoul, but since the year 2000 their numbers have surged to a record-high 283,984 last year, accounting for 2.8 percent of Seoulites.

    But that is being offset by a steady outflow of born and bred Koreans to the commuter belt. The first exodus came with the construction of the satellite cities of Bundang to the south and Ilsan to the north in the early 1990s. Now, the number of people who flee high property prices in Seoul proper surpasses the number of people moving in.

    Another reason is a low birthrate and aging population. The natural increase in Seoul's population calculated by subtracting deaths from births fell from 145,000 in 1992 to around 13,000 last year.

    At the end of 2018, people over 65 accounted for 14.4 percent of Seoul's population. At the present rate, Seoul will become a super-aged society around 2026.

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