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Number of S. Korean emigrants hit record low in 2014

The number of South Korean emigrants fell to a record low in 2014 as living standards in Asia's fourth-largest economy have been improving, Seoul's foreign ministry said Friday.

The number of South Koreans who immigrated to foreign countries reached 249 last year, down from 302 the previous year, according to data by the foreign ministry.

The 2014 data marked the lowest since 1962 when the government began to compile related data. The emigration data does not include the number of Korean children sent for international adoption.

The United States was the No. 1 destination for Korean emigrants with 177, followed by Canada with 22 and Australia with 16, the data showed.

Emigration had been on a sharp rise until 1976 as more and more people had been choosing to live in foreign countries for a better life. The Korean economy underwent fast industrialization in the 1970s after rising from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Since then, the number has been declining, and it fell below the 10,000 mark, down to 9,509, for the first time in 2003, the data showed.

A decline in emigration came as the economic gaps between Seoul and other major countries have been shrinking, officials said.

In 2014, the Korean economy, the world's 13th-largest, grew 3.3 percent from a year earlier. (Yonhap)