By Bae Ji-sook
About two out of every 100 residents here are non-Koreans, with the majority living in and around Seoul, government data showed Tuesday.
The number of legal foreign nationals here topped 891,341 in May, accounting for 1.8 percent of the 43.95 million registered population, according to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. The figure is a 23 percent jump from a year earlier.
Most of them were long-term workers who make up 49 percent of the total followed by migrant spouses, children from interracial marriages, foreign students and expatriates from multinational companies.
“It”s time for the country to think about the future of Korea where locals live together with foreigners,”” a ministry official said. “The government will continue to expand services to help foreign nationals adjust to Korean life.””
The number of public and private organizations providing support for these people has increased to 564 from 346 a year ago. The government also plans to further expand assistance and other programs, the official said.
Ethnic Korean Chinese made up the largest number of foreign nationals here at 44 percent followed by people from Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, the United States, Japan and Mongolia.
Most of the residents were males ― 69 percent of workers were migrant male workers. Women led in the foreign spouse category with 65,511 gaining Korean citizenship through marriage. The majority of these were ethnic Koreans from China followed by women from Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Taiwan.
Foreign nationals can now be seen nationwide ― Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul has 39,793 foreigner residents, about 9.8 percent of the ward population; Ansan has 36,387; Guro, 28,818; and Suwon, 25,019.
However, Ulleung County in North Geyongsang Province bucked the trend, having just 58 foreign nationals, way below the national average.