Foreign population reaches all-time high

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Sep 23, 2014 - 21:17
Updated : Sep 23, 2014 - 21:17

The number of foreign nationals in Korea has exceeded 1.7 million, a report showed Tuesday.

According to a report by the Korea Immigration Service and the Justice Ministry, 1.71 million foreign citizens were in the country, 10.6 percent higher than in the same period in 2013.

The total number of registered residents ― who are staying in Korea for at least 90 days ― accounted for 61.8 percent, while 22.2 percent were on short term visas. The remaining 16 percent were Korean-Americans.

The number of illegal immigrants also increased by 3.5 percent to 189,000, compared to August 2013.

Over half ― 866,000 ― of the foreign nationals in Korea were Chinese, 579,000 of whom were ethnic Koreans. U.S. citizens followed, with 137,000 of them in Korea.

With more foreigners living in Korea than ever before, there has been an increase in crimes involving foreign nationals, both as victims and perpetrators.

According to data from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, some 34,561 foreign nationals were charged with crimes in 2013 which marked a 30 percent increase from the year before.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency recently said that the number of sex-related crimes against foreigners in Seoul tripled to 213 in 2013 from 76 in 2009.

A 2009 report by Hyundai Research Institute showed that in terms of accepting other cultures, Korea was one of the worst in the world, an indicator that the country still has long way to go before becoming a multicultural nation.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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