Ethnic Minorities And Immigrants In South Korea

96% of the South Korean population is comprised by ethnic Koreans, while the largest groups of immigrants are from China and the United States.

A Virtually Homogeneous Society

The South Korean Republic has Seoul as its capital, and it is the largest city in the country as well. It has a unitary government system led by President Park Geun-Ahn and the Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn. The country is highly urbanized with over 92%of its citizens living in urban areas with over 50% of them residing in Seoul. Of 50,801,405. The nation is widely known for its advancement in research and development as well as technology. It made the second ever human walking robot and has subsequently deployed more robots to teach English in preschools and kindergartens. The government has come up with various measures to reduce population growth which includes advocating for birth control as well as legalizing abortion. South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the worlds with almost a negligible percentage of foreign immigrants. The immigrants mostly come from the People’s Republic of China, United States of America, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Chinese in South Korea

After the People’s Republic of China and South Korea reformed their relationship in 1992, a new wave of Chinese migrants into South Korea emerged. The latest statistics show that 50% of immigrants to the country are Chinese. The relationship between the two nations dates back to 1882 during the Qing Dynasty where the dynasty lifted the trade restrictions with Korea. The Korean government was also very instrumental in helping the Qing Dynasty quell rebellions. In the early 1900s, a trade agreement was signed allowing Chinese merchants to conduct business in Korea. During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, most Chinese migrants in Korea shifted to the USA but were unable to cope with the culture, climate, and the language and opted back to South Korea. Today, most Chinese prefer going to Seoul due to its quiet, serene and clean environment. South Koreans have put up Chinese schools across the country and hence it is easier for the Chinese to come and live in the country.

Americans in South Korea

The Korean Republic's immigration rules are very strict, being especially so for non-Asians. The Koreans also have reservations in intermarrying with people outside of Asia. The government has put in place regulations on individuals applying for citizenship via marriage with one required to pass a Korean language proficiency test and have a proof an annual income more than 14 million dollars. This measure is meant to tackle the leading causes of marital strife which are the inability to communicate and low income. Most Americans come to the country as tourists or professionals. They are the majority of English teachers found in the country. However, most of USA citizens fear visiting South Korea due to insecurity since posed by North Korea.

Vietnamese in South Korea

The Vietnamese-South Korean ties date back to the year 1200 when Ly Duong had to flee to Goryeo in Korea after a succession of power dispute. The Vietnamese have kept contact with both the South Koreans and North Koreans after the division of Korea in 1945. Most of the Vietnamese migrants are workers and women introduced to local husbands via marriage agencies. The Korean men have outnumbered the women by eight percent, and this has made them turn to marriage agencies to search for partners and has increased the spousal migration with over 5,000 Vietnamese women migrating annually to South Korea to get married. On the other hand, the Vietnamese men are unskilled laborers employed in small, labor-intensive industries such as fishing.

Filipinos in South Korea

The bilateral relationship between the Philippines and South Korea can be traced back to 1950 during the Korean War, when over 7,500 Filipino soldiers fought on the United Nations' side to assist South Korea's conflict against communist North Korea. After the war, Filipino engineers and technicians played a vital role in reconstructing the country. In the 1990s, South Korea experienced a rapid economic growth coupled with decreasing birth rates which required increased labor and therefore Filipinos came in handy. In 2007, Filipino immigrants to South Korea were estimated to number 70,000 people. The urbanization era in the country came with massive challenges. The mass rural-urban migration led to a shortage of young women in the rural areas. This imbalance lured Filipino brides to the area who were also running away from poverty in their communities, and led to intermarriages between the two ethnic communities.

Ethnic Minorities And Immigrants In South Korea

RankCountry of OriginShare of Foreign-Born Population in South Korea
1People's Republic of China50%
2United States of America7.6%

Other Countries17.2%

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