According to data released by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security on Thursday, there were 151,154 such children registered as of Jan. 1, surpassing the 150,000 mark for the first time.
This year’s figure represents an increase of 24 percent from a year earlier when the number stood at 121,935. The tally was 58,007 in 2008, and nearly doubled to 107,689 the following year.
Of the children, 87 percent were under the age of 12.
Forty-five percent of the children have at least one parent of Chinese nationality. For thirty-six percent, at least one parent came from a Southeast Asian country such as Vietnam.
Of the total 151,154, about 141,000 were born to couples with a Korean and a foreigner. The remaining 9,621 were born to parents who are both foreigners.
“The government will work on the appropriate policy response to the sharp increase in the number of these children, in the fields of education and healthcare in particular,” a ministry official said.
Thursday’s data also showed that the number of foreign residents reached 1.26 million, accounting for 2.5 percent of the population.
Of the total, migrant workers formed the largest group at 553,000. Some 141,600 are married to Koreans, while 86,900 are studying here.
The number of Chinese nationals reached 696,800, including 488,000 of Korean descent. They accounted for nearly half of the total expat population.
By location, the city of Ansan in Gyeonggi Province is home to the largest number of expats. Some 50,865 reside there. Seoul’s Yeungdeungpo ward came in second with 50,531 registered foreign residents, followed by Guro, also a ward in Seoul, with 37,359.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)