Net outflow of foreign residents for first time in a decade

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Net outflow of foreign residents for first time in a decade

People entering Incheon International Airport's arrival hall on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

People entering Incheon International Airport's arrival hall on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

For the first time in more than a decade, more foreign residents left Korea than came here to live.  
 
In 2020, 233,000 entered the country and stayed more than 90 days, down 46.8 percent on year, while 362,000 in the country for more than 90 days left, down 15 percent.  
 
Significant outflow was observed among younger foreigners.  
 
Last year 73,000 in their 20s entered and stayed for more than 90 days, and 111,000 left. Among those in their 30s, 49,000 arrived and stayed while 99,000 departed, while in the 40s age group, 32,000 arrived and 57,000 left.
 
Korea has experienced a net inflow of foreigners since 2010.  
 
Among the foreigners entering and staying for more than 90 days, 41 percent were Chinese. The total was 96,000, down 42,000 from 2019.
 
In 2020, 28,000 Vietnamese entered and stayed more than 90 days and 21,000 U.S. citizens.
 
“In the case of Chinese, the biggest reasons of entering the country was because of jobs followed by studies and vocational training,” said Kim Soo-young, Statistics Korea official.  “In the case of Vietnamese, the biggest group were those that entered the country for permanent residence, immigration through marriage, as well as studies and training, while in the case of Thais, the leading reason was short-term jobs.”  
 
In 2020, 171,000 Chinese citizens left the country, 23,000 Vietnamese and 22,000 Thais.  
 
When including Korean citizens, the number of people who came to stay in the country for more than 90 days plus those who left Korea after being in the country more than 90 days totaled 1.23 million, down 15.9 percent.
 
The statistics agency said it was the sharpest drop since the data were first compiled in 2000.  
 
The total number of people entering the country and staying for more than 90 days was 673,000, a 10.1 percent decline, while those leaving totaled 560,000, down 21.9 percent.
 
The net inflow was 113,000.
 
The number of Koreans living abroad and returning increased 41.5 percent, while those leaving fell 31.9 percent, resulting in a net inflow of 241,000. That’s 222,000 more than in 2019.  
 
This is a record for net inflow.  
 
The statistics agency said the significant increase in returns was largely due to Covid-19.  
 
“In the case of Koreans, most lived abroad to study or were sent by their companies, but as schools either suspended classes or converted to online closes and Korean companies ordered the return of workers, the total for those returning sharply increased while the number leaving declined sharply, resulting in a record net inflow,” Kim said.
 
 

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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