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Number of foreigners in Korea surpasses 2.5 million

Foreign nationals lined up at Seoul Immigration Office (Yonhap)
Foreign nationals lined up at Seoul Immigration Office (Yonhap)
The number of foreign nationals in South Korea reached a record 2.5 million in December, government data shows.

According to the Korea Immigration Service on Monday, there were 2.5 million foreign nationals on short- or long-term visas here as of December 2019, up 3.7 percent from a month earlier. From a year ago, the tally increased by 6.6 percent.

Foreign citizens now account for 4.9 percent of Korea’s population.

Korea’s foreign population has risen steadily since it hit the 1 million mark in 2007. It recorded 2 million in 2016.

Of the 2.5 million, 68.6 percent, or 1.7 million, are here on long-term visas valid 90 days or longer.

Chinese accounted for 43.6 percent of the total at 1.1 million, and held the most common foreign nationality here. They were followed in numbers by Vietnamese, Thai and US nationals.

More than half of registered foreign residents live either in Gyeonggi Province or Seoul, with more people living in the former.

Seven percent of the total were students. China supplied the largest number of students, followed by Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

Of all foreign residents, 15.5 percent did not have valid visas.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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