S.Korea posts 1st decline in foreign population since 2006


South Korea saw its foreign population shrink by 3.2 per cent in November 2020 from the previous year, the first such decline since 2006 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to a report by the Ministry, the number of foreign residents, defined as foreign nationals residing in the country for more than 90 days or naturalised Koreans and their children, stood at 2.15 million in November in 2020, compared with 2.22 million the same month a year earlier, reports Yonhap News Agency.

As of November last year, foreign residents made up 4.1 per cent of the country’s total population.

It marks the first time the country has reported a fall in its foreign population since relevant statistics were first compiled in 2006.

The decline is largely attributable to a slower inflow of foreign workers and students after the pandemic made cross-border trips difficult.

The number of foreign nationals in that month marked a decline of 4.7 per cent year-on-year, and out of them, the population of foreign workers and students posted an on-year fall of 11.6 per cent and 11.2 per cent, respectively.

Of the total foreign nationals, Chinese people made up 44.2 per cent, followed by Vietnamese accounting for 11.8 per cent, Thai 9.8 per cent and Americans 3.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of naturalised Koreans had stood at 13,400 as of November last year, up 7.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Gyeonggi Province surrounding the capital Seoul was hosting the biggest number of foreign residents by region, with 715,331, or 33.3 per cent of the total foreign population.

Seoul was hosting roughly 20 per cent, followed by Incheon, west of Seoul, having 6.1 per cent.

On the city level, Ansan of Gyeonggi Province had the biggest foreign population of 93,639.

The Ministry said the statistics have been compiled to help central and municipal government agencies formulate policies aimed at helping foreign residents better settle down in the country.