Number of foreigners landing in Korea hits high

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Number of foreigners landing in Korea hits high

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The number of foreigners arrived in Korea hit a record high in 2011 mainly due to the economic slowdown in other parts of the world and the fallout from Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, a government report showed yesterday.

Statistics Korea released a report showing that the number of foreign arrivals in Korea reached 307,249 last year, the highest figure in the past 11 years and above the previous peak of 303,000 in 2006. The number was 4.8 percent higher than a year earlier.

There were 91,000 more foreigners entering the country than leaving it, the largest figure since the Korean government began keeping data on international population movements in 2000.

The report also said simplified visa procedures encouraged more foreigners to come to Korea.

The report showed that Chinese, U.S. and Vietnamese made up 66.8 percent of all foreigners arriving in the country. Chinese accounted for the largest share, followed by Americans, Vietnamese, Thais and Filipinos. More Cambodian people came to Korea last year, and they became the eighth largest foreign population in the country.

Last year, 54,000 more Chinese nationals arrived in Korea compared to those that left the country. Net arrivals for Vietnam and the United States were 14,000 and 5,000, respectively.

The tally of foreigners included people who were in the country for less than 90 days, so it includes tourists and people on business trips.

Of all the foreigners, 40.8 percent said they were in the country to find jobs, and 19.5 percent said they were visiting for short stays. Those who came to Korea to travel accounted for 7.9 percent.

351,000 Koreans entered the country, up by 3.6 percent compared to 2010, while 350,000 left it for other areas, down by 1.1 percent on year.

Last year marked the first time the number of Koreans leaving the country was smaller than arrivals.

“Japan’s massive earthquake and the release of nuclear material into the environment played a role in keeping Koreans from going abroad,” a statistical office said, and some foreigners living and working in Japan moved to Korea, the officials said.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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