Friday, August 24, 2007

Waegooks in Korea - Over 1,000,000

Oh boy! The number of waegooks, foreigners (외국), in South Korea is over one million. According to the article linked below, that's two percent of the total population.

I have to say I've definitely noticed the increase during the time I've lived here. I think it's good for both Korea and foreigners like me who, well, aren't really into explaining the subtext of what they're saying all the time.

It's nice to be in a crowd of foreigners who just get it. It's also nice not to be limited to English teachers as friends (nothing against my friends who are English teachers but you know my opinion on the most of them.) It's nice going to movies where when the funny scene happens you laugh in unison. Yes, I'm not always into cultural exchange. In fact, I find it to be incredibly tedious most of the time.

Funny, considering I do like living abroad. However, there were a couple of years where I was downright hostile. The undiagnosed Graves' Disease I'm sure didn't help. I think excess of hormones only exacerbated the sheer agony of living out in the country as I'm born, raised and educated in the big city. I'm just too used to activity and a buzz around me. I got over the tendency to sneer a bit too much once I escaped the country. I am NOT cut out for rural living, especially in Korea.

Anyway, here is the Korea Herald's article on this new shift in demographics in Korea.

Foreign residents top 1 mil.

The number of foreigners residing in the country surpassed the 1-million mark for the first time, accounting for 2 percent of the total population, according to government data.

The Justice Ministry said that foreign residents total 1,000,245, a 15 percent increase from 865,889 recorded in July 2006 and 1.58 times more than 386,972 in 1997.

Of them, 220,000 are staying here illegally.

By nationality, Chinese take the lion's share, tallied at 441,334, or 44 percent of the total foreign population. The figure includes some 266,000 Korean-Chinese. Americans are the second largest group with 117,938, or 12 percent, followed by Vietnamese with 64,464, or 6 percent.

Of the total, 724,000 are registered as long-term residents including industrial trainees and spouses of Korean nationals.

The survey said 64.5 percent of the foreign population reside in Seoul or the surrounding metropolitan areas.

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