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How common are foreigners in Korea?


Foreigners in Korea are a common sight, but just how common are they? In this article, we will explore the history of foreign presence in Korea and examine current statistics on the number of foreigners living and working in the country. We’ll also look at some of the reasons why people come to Korea from abroad and what challenges they may face when living in a new culture.

History of Foreign Presence in Korea

Korea has a long history of interacting with other nations, beginning with its close ties to China in ancient times. In more recent history, Korea was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and experienced a large influx of U.S. military personnel during the Korean War. In the decades that followed, Korea became increasingly open to foreign investment and tourism, leading to a growing number of foreigners living and working in the country.

Current Statistics on Foreigners in Korea

According to data from the Korean government, there were approximately 1.6 million foreigners living in Korea as of 2020. This represents about 3% of the total population. The largest groups of foreigners in Korea come from China, Vietnam, and the United States. Many foreigners come to Korea for work or to study, while others come as tourists or to visit family.

Reasons Why People Come to Korea

There are many reasons why people choose to come to Korea from abroad. For some, it’s an opportunity to experience a new culture and learn about a different way of life. Others come for work, either because they have been offered a job or because they want to gain experience in their field. Still others come to study, as Korea has many excellent universities and programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Challenges Faced by Foreigners in Korea

While living in Korea can be an exciting and rewarding experience, it can also come with its own set of challenges. For one, language barriers can make it difficult to navigate daily life, especially for those who don’t speak Korean. Additionally, cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings or difficulties in adapting to new norms and customs. Finally, some foreigners may face discrimination or prejudice from locals who are not used to interacting with people from other countries.

Foreigners in the Workforce

Many foreigners in Korea come for work, and there are a variety of industries that employ non-Korean workers. Some of the most common fields include English teaching, IT, and manufacturing. However, there are also challenges for foreigners looking for work in Korea, including language barriers and visa requirements.

Foreigners in Education

Korea is known for its excellent education system, and many foreigners come to study at universities or language institutes. However, there are also challenges for foreign students, including adapting to a new academic culture and adjusting to life in a dormitory or shared housing.

Foreigner-Friendly Policies

In recent years, the Korean government has taken steps to make the country more welcoming to foreigners. This includes policies such as offering visas for foreign entrepreneurs and providing support for foreign students. Additionally, there are many programs and organizations that cater specifically to the needs of foreigners living in Korea.

Foreigner Communities in Korea

As the number of foreigners in Korea has grown, so too have the communities that cater to their needs. There are many social clubs, language exchange programs, and other organizations that provide opportunities for foreigners to connect with each other and with locals. These communities can be a valuable resource for newcomers looking to make friends or learn more about Korean culture.

Korean Society’s Attitude Toward Foreigners

While Korea has become more open to foreigners in recent years, there are still some who hold negative attitudes toward non-Koreans. This can range from mild ignorance or curiosity to outright hostility or discrimination. However, it’s important to note that these attitudes are not representative of all Koreans, and many people are welcoming and accepting of foreigners.


Overall, while the number of foreigners in Korea may still be relatively small compared to other countries, they are a visible and important part of Korean society. From students to entrepreneurs, foreigners bring a diversity of perspectives and experiences that enrich the country as a whole. While challenges do exist, there are also many resources available to help foreigners adapt and thrive in their new home.

Is it hard for an American to live in South Korea?

Preparing before your arrival can make the process of moving to South Korea easy. Although South Korea used to be less welcoming to foreign migration, the country now embraces international companies and is more open to foreign arrivals.

Is South Korea immigrant friendly?

South Korea is an industrialized country with a high standard of living and is one of the few liberal democracies in Asia, making it an appealing option for immigrants. The country’s aging population and low birth rate create a demand for both highly skilled and low-skilled labor.

Are there a lot of Americans in South Korea?

As of 2021, there were approximately 57,800 individuals from the United States living in South Korea, which is a decrease from the previous year’s count of about 59,700. This information was reported on August 5, 2022.

Is the US friendly with Korea?

The United States and South Korea have been allies since the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty, which allows for a continuous presence of U.S. military personnel on the Korean peninsula.

Why do so many Koreans come to America?

Due to factors such as high unemployment, political instability, and military rule, many Koreans migrated to the United States between the 1960s and early 1980s. Their offspring, commonly referred to as the “second generation” or “gyopo” in Korean, make up the current Korean-American community.

Is it expensive to live in Korea?

South Korea is known for its high cost of living, with its capital city Seoul often being ranked among the most expensive cities in the world. In fact, in 2022, Seoul was ranked 14th out of 227 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey.

The Future of Foreigners in Korea

As Korea continues to grow and develop, it’s likely that the number of foreigners living and working in the country will continue to increase. This presents both opportunities and challenges, as the country will need to find ways to integrate and support its growing foreign population. However, with the right policies and attitudes, Korea can become an even more welcoming and diverse society.

Advice for Foreigners Living in Korea

For those considering a move to Korea, it’s important to do your research and prepare as much as possible. Learning some basic Korean language skills can be helpful, as can researching cultural norms and customs. Additionally, taking advantage of resources like language exchange programs or expat groups can help you connect with other foreigners and find support when you need it.

The Benefits of Being a Foreigner in Korea

While there are certainly challenges to living in a new culture, being a foreigner in Korea also comes with many unique benefits. For one, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about a new way of life and broaden your perspective. Additionally, living in another country can be a great way to gain new skills and experiences that can benefit you both personally and professionally.


Overall, the presence of foreigners in Korea is a testament to the country’s openness and willingness to engage with the world. While there are certainly challenges that come with living in a new culture, there are also many rewards for those who are willing to take the leap. Whether you’re coming for work, study, or just for a change of scenery, Korea has much to offer for those looking for adventure and new experiences.

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