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No. of Expats in Korea Doubles Over Decade

Posted November. 09, 2009 08:49,   


The number of expatriates in Korea has doubled over the past decade but openness to foreign cultures by Koreans is the lowest in the world, two surveys say.

Hyundai Research Institute said in a report on multicultural trends and its implications in Korea, “Though Korea has seen a big rise in the number of foreign students, migrant workers, and international couples, it has failed to embrace them, resulting in social problems.”

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of foreign residents was 1.15 million at the end of September, more than twice that of 2000 (490,000).

The rise in foreign students and migrant workers was especially sharp. The number of foreign students shot up to 82,000 in September this year from just 9,700 in 2003. Since an employment permit system took effect in 2004, the number of migrant workers also skyrocketed to nearly 550,000 in September.

In addition, a report by IMD, a leading global business school based in Switzerland, ranked Korea last in openness to foreign cultures among 55 countries last year and second to last among 57 countries this year.

IMD also said a steep rise in the number of foreigners coupled with a growing population of expats who have failed to adapt to Korean society are causing social problems.

A case in point is the surge in divorces among international couples. Last year, international marriages accounted for 11 percent, or 36,000 marriages, in Korea.