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Immigration: South Korea

Overview
Most immigrants are not eligible for citizenship or even permanent residency, unless they are
married to a South Korean citizen or have invested more than $5 million USD in the local
economy
However, an exception is made for those whose non-financial contribution to the nation has been
specifically recognized by the Justice Minister, and for holders of a business visa who have
invested more than US$500,000.
Statistics
Immigrants count for only around 1% of the population but are a growing group.

Today, the number of non-Korean nationals who have resided in South Korea for three months or
more stands at approximately 1.4 million, or just under 3% of the total population. That's a
significant increase in just the past few years. Korea's immigrants run the gamut from migrant
workers to business executives to English teachers and foreign brides.
Benefits of immigration
1. Foreign wives
The foreign-bride phenomenon has increased from virtually zero a generation ago to
approximately 14% of marriages in Korea today.

Especially common in rural areas, these wives usually come from Southeast Asian countries
such as Thailand or the Philippines.
Their marriages bring emotional benefits and support to both spouses, especially in a society
when native born women are marrying later, if at all.
Bring about economic opportunities to the foreign wives

Crucially, they also counteract the falling fertility rate of Korean women, one of the lowest in the
world.
Problems of immigration in Korea
Abuse of immigrants
Korean society and government have done a poor job of offering these bride-immigrants the

social and policy support they need. These marriages are prone to difficulties arising from
culture clashes between the bride and the groom and his extended family. Extreme cases have
ranged from severe domestic abuse to actual and attempted murders of foreign spouses or inlaws. This is especially since Korean law leaves these immigrants vulnerable to such abuse.
Foreign spouses generally arrive in Korea on a three-year F-6 visa that classifies them as
foreigners, leaving them vulnerable to deportation if the visa expires and is not renewed. And the
justice system often errs toward siding with Korean-born nationals, who as native speakers can
better plead their cases to the relevant authorities.

Multiracial children: discrimination

Not only do foreign brides face significant challenges, so do their children. Multiracial children,
who numbered more than 150,000 in 2011, tend to encounter discrimination, especially from their
peers at school.
In a recent poll of multiracial students by the National Human Rights Commission, 42% of those
surveyed said that they have been teased by their fellow classmates for their inability to
pronounce Korean words properly. One-quarter also encountered racial discrimination in various
forms, such as being told that they are not "true" or "pure" Koreans.
Discrimination against immigrants involved in politics: due to the fear that they may 'dilute' their
identity
Jasmine Lee, a Philippine-born naturalized Korean citizen who is currently a lawmaker for the
ruling conservative Saenuri Party.
Other Koreans have been less accepting. Online comments have included such vitriolic
statements as: "Following the immigrant wife Lee's entry to the Assembly, we can well predict the
rise of unregistered foreigners and foreign women marrying in return for money. We'll see the
truth of multiculturalism that exploits Koreans."
In general Koreans hold attitudes about race and national identity that are far from the norm in
most other developed countries. In a late 2012 survey by the Ministry of Gender, Equality and
Family, 89% of Korean adults responded that Korean blood ancestry was important to be
recognized as a Korean.
How to counter the problems faced in the enforcement of this policy:
1. President Park Geun-hye last month proposed a liberalization of some of her country's
immigration rules in 5-years long plan.
These changes would make it easier for high-skilled individuals and investors, especially
entrepreneurs and technology experts, to move to Korea. For instance
A. it could call for better monitoring of and transparency in the marriage-broker market -> so
as to ensure fairness for all foreign brides
B. The country could also amend laws to give immigrants better legal protections and support.
C. And the current government could look to incorporate qualified individuals from various
ethnic and cultural backgrounds into various levels of public administration.
2. Industrial trainee scheme
To upgrade the skills of foreign workers employed by overseas South Korean firms.

It was so well received that in 2002, the government increased the number of industrial trainees
under the foreign trainee scheme by 20,000 to 145,000.
3. Employment management scheme
Due to the undeniable presence of undocumented foreign workers, in June 2002, the government
recognized the need to give worker status to unskilled foreign labor for the first time.

As such unskilled foreign workers are now being recognized. This not only gives them a sense of
identity, but also allows the government to keep a track of the rate of immigration.
However, since this work permit is limited to foreign workers in the service sector who have Korean
ancestors (these are mainly Chinese Koreans), it does not have much significance.

4. Employment permit scheme


Qualified Korean employers (those with less than 300 employees in the areas of manufacturing,
construction, and service are given priority) can enter into employment contracts with foreign
workers who should be in good health and under the age of 40.

However, there are certain criteria to this scheme:


A. Must first demonstrate that they have spent at least one month attempting to find Korean
workers by requesting help from public employment centers.
B. Foreign workers must come to South Korea through government-to-government
agreements. The government has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the
governments of eight countries, including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, and
Indonesia.
C. After the maximum three-year employment period, foreign workers have to leave South
Korea and stay outside the country for a one-year period before they are allowed to return
for another three-year period.
D. Family members of foreign workers are not allowed to enter, a restriction purposely
designed to dissuade foreign workers from permanently settling in South Korea. This is so
as to control the population growth and keep it within an optimum range.
Positive effects
A. It gave many undocumented foreign workers the opportunity to apply for a permit,
depending on how long they had been in the country illegally. At the same time,
undocumented workers who did not qualify for a permit were given a chance to leave
the country without paying any fines. This amnesty boosted the registered foreign
population 73.4 percent between 2002 and 2003.