E.g., 06/16/2021
E.g., 06/16/2021
Country Resource - South Korea

South Korea

KR
  • Population...................................................................... 51,715,162 (July 2021 est.)
  • Population growth rate ................................................................ 0.26% (2021 est.)
  • Birth rate..................................................... 6.89 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)
  • Death rate................................................ 6.96 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)
  • Net migration rate............................... 2.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)
  • Ethnic groups....................................................................................homogeneous

CIA World Factbook

LearningKorean TruongVanVi ILO

Faced with labor shortages in key sectors of the economy, South Korea has moved carefully in recent decades toward accepting greater numbers of workers—albeit in temporary fashion. Its Employment Permit System, launched in 2003, earned international accolades for bringing order and legality to immigration in the country, although several challenges remain to be addressed as this Country Profile explores.

Recent Activity

KoreanMarchingBand

Approximately 1 million Korean immigrants—the vast majority from South Korea—resided in the United States in 2017. Korean immigrants tend to be highly educated and of high socioeconomic standing. Get the latest data on this population, including flows over time, geographic distribution, employment, and more in this Spotlight.

LearningKorean TruongVanVi ILO

Faced with labor shortages in key sectors of the economy, South Korea has moved carefully in recent decades toward accepting greater numbers of workers—albeit in temporary fashion. Its Employment Permit System, launched in 2003, earned international accolades for bringing order and legality to immigration in the country, although several challenges remain to be addressed as this Country Profile explores.

KoreansNYC YoungSokYun Flickr

Approximately 1 million Korean immigrants (overwhelmingly from South Korea) lived in the United States in 2015, representing 2.4 percent of the U.S. immigrant population. While earlier waves consisted largely of unskilled laborers and their families, contemporary Korean immigration boasts high socioeconomic standing and Koreans are generally considered among the most successful immigrant groups.

TaiChi AsianDevelopmentBank Flickr

With many countries in East Asia facing unfavorable demographic shifts in the form of aging populations, low fertility, and shrinking workforces, governments in 2016 continued to explore immigration as a potential policy solution. However, a tradition of cultural homogeneity and wariness among publics about increased immigration is leading policymakers to test the waters with very small steps.

Sensitive to having too many outsiders, prosperous Asian countries generally have relied on temporary worker programs — with few rights for migrants — to fill gaps in their labor markets. With its historically diverse population, Singapore is the main exception as it sees migrants as a demographic necessity and courts highly skilled migrants.

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Young-bum Park of Hansung University outlines South Korea's response to temporary labor demands and its approach to integrating North Korean refugees.

Tsuneo Akaha of the Monterey Institute of International Studies looks at emerging migration patterns in North Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.

coverthumb_covid19 global mobility 2020
Reports
April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically curtailed cross-border mobility in 2020, affecting travelers and migrants around the world. This report presents a first-of-its-kind analysis of the many thousands of travel restrictions and border closures imposed by governments to curb the spread of the virus. It examines how these policies evolved, varied across countries and regions, and what these trends may mean for the future of international movement.

coverthumb_pandemic economies jobs migration
Reports
November 2020

Around the world, governments are grappling with how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also managing the economic fallout of policies put in place to stop the virus’ spread. Global migration has dropped sharply amid border closures and travel restrictions. This reflection takes stock of policy responses to the pandemic thus far, and of the challenges (and some opportunities) on the horizon for migration systems, labor markets, and integration of newcomers.

cover Yevgeny
Books
July 2013

This edited volume develops a pragmatic approach to the engagement of highly skilled members of the diaspora for the benefit of their countries of origin. The book, edited by a World Bank senior economist, is based on empirical work in middle-income and high-income economies.