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Immigration worries most Koreans: survey

A state-funded think tank on health found that more than half of Koreans are anxious about the increasing number of foreigners and immigrant workers entering the country.

According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs on Sunday, a large number of Koreans are worried that immigration could bring about problems in social resources and culture.

A telephone survey of 1,000 men and women over 20 found that 63.9 percent believed the statement, “if there are more children of foreigners and immigrants, they will have problems with Korean students,” had some truth.

Of that, 8.4 percent completely agreed with the above statement in the survey that looked to analyze the impact of immigration on Korea’s aging society.

Another 64 percent of respondents agreed that they had concerns about the possibility of riots or social unrest by foreign nationals should the numbers continue to rise.

About half of those surveyed believed that Koreans would have a harder time finding employment if there were more foreigners. The number was particularly high among senior citizens, with 65.7 percent agreeing.

The survey found that 37.3 percent believe that the rise in numbers of foreign nationals here will decrease social welfare for Koreans. Also, 37.2 percent thought that an increase in the numbers of immigrants would drive wages down.

A similar number of those surveyed believed that the rise in immigration would cause housing problems for Koreans, while 18.8 percent even believed that the rise would negatively affect the nation’s economic growth.

The survey found that an alarming number of Koreans surveyed believe that conflicts will arise from differences in language, religion and even skin color at 57.8 percent, 50.8 percent and 47.5 percent, respectively.

“Many Koreans have negative perceptions regarding the influx of foreigners, which the results show a preview of the various forms of expression that can emerge from such perceptions,” said Lee Sam-shik, a researcher at KIHASA.

“These results especially highlight Koreans’ dominant belief in pure blood, which will make the conflicts that arise from such attitudes more difficult to deal with and time-consuming.”

Lee added that policies need to be implemented to ensure minimal conflict between Koreans and other ethnic groups in the country, and for social advancement.

According to government data, as of September there are 1,418,149 foreign nationals in Korea.

By Robert Lee (
catch table
Korea Herald daum