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Immigration in South Korea

In this report I am going to compare the republic of South Korean and United States of America where I was born because the U. S represents a well organized multicultural society. I am also going to describe on South Korea’s lack of public administration in relation to immigration and the necessity of enforcing a policy for immigrants because less skilled immigrants and a high number of unskilled immigrants is likely to lead the society into serious problems.

I am also going to describe recent history about immigration in South Korea. Introduction South Korea as a country is experiencing an outflow of the best brains that are leaving for greener pastures while at the same time there is an influx of illegal immigrants coming in. This imbalance is leading to various social problems and in order to address these concerns, the country has to properly understand the cause of the problems and develop appropriate policies that pertain to immigration.

Immigration Pattern According to Business week (2005) that there are approximately 185,000 foreigners living illegally in South Korea with a further 235,000 in the country legally. The illegal laborers are mostly associated with difficult, dirty and dangerous jobs that typically would not be performed by any affluent Korea. This situation has resulted into an underclass of workers who are not allowed to join trade unions, own personal property or send their children to public schools.

This scenario is widely attributed to a government initiative of “industrial training” that managed to bring about 240,000 workers from 15 Asian countries legally and this particular initiative was meant to provide lower wage income earners to the small manufacturing enterprises and farms whereby immigrants are issued with visas that expire after three years, but contrary to the rules, most of the immigrants overstay in the country illegally leading to a drain on national resources.

This immigration has also led to intermarriages and according to Yahoo news (2010) more than a third of South Korean farmers and fishermen chose immigrant brides as their spouses whereby 47% of the brides were from Vietnam, 26% China and 10% Cambodia. This trend is so because, South Korean women prefer more of an urban lifestyle and foreign brides are easy to coax by deceptive advertisements and false promises.

Another issue is that most of married South Korean women rarely participate in productive employment; it was revealed that only 20% worked outside their homes as opposed to 70% of South Korean women whom had migrated to New York whom worked outside the home (Young & Ailee, 1998, p. 83)

These international marriages have also been exacerbated by the notion of preferring a son to a daughter which has caused a distorted sex ratio which indicates the current ratio of males to female at 116:100, the number of single women in South Korea is also increasing by the day mainly because women prefer self realization through their careers to marriage social customs.

Korean women cannot also marry their male counterparts with the reasons cited being economic and cultural conditions since most women preferring spinsterhood are increasing and also the male-female ratio of 116:100. Women willing to get married are decreasing by the day and Korean men from the low income brackets due to economic hardships, tend to go for international marriages with spouses from South East Asian countries (H. S Song)

There is also the issue of E-2 work visa holders mandated to teach English for a period not exceeding one year in South Korean schools, these immigrants often overstay after their visas have expired and despite the severe penalties and fines, these teachers proceed and extend their stay illegally (World Traveler). This brings along confusion within the government when planning for public amenities and this situation may result into an over-draining of the resources available such as schools being attended by immigrant children’s hence diluting the quality of the education system in the country.

On the other hand, South Korea as a country are more concerned with the diminishing population of the native born Koreans, it is being argued that in the next 15 years more than half of the working population in the republic are likely to be foreign workers, it is this dramatic influx of foreign workers that is escalating as a social and a security concern to the republic.

This particular problem is being attributed to Korean’s perspective of accepting foreign workers, for instance, in factory operations that are facing labor shortages mainly because native Koreans do not want to work in 3D industries. These factory workers come from neighboring China, Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal and Pakistan in which they are only permitted to work for a period not exceeding a year with a salary of around $2 per hour which is below than what illegal workers earn at around $4 per hour (Lee Shin-Wha, 2005) .

It is this underpayment that drives the legal migrants into overstaying hence earning more as illegal migrants. The Korean government and businesses also offer incentives for foreign investors via industrial training programs to foreign workers who are paid $2 without medical insurance, these workers end up becoming illegal workers so they may easily double their income to $4 per hour(Lee Shin-Wha, 2005). Illegal foreigners may also enter Korea on a tourist or visitors visa and find illegal employment within the first two weeks.

The Korean government through its ministry of justice in 2003 managed to introduce work permit law for foreign nationalities, this law granted 227,000 unregistered foreign laborers legal status which eventually increased the number of legal workers to 541,000 in 2004 and as a result of this legislation, it is being estimated that approximately 150,000 illegal immigrants have already left the country (Lee Shin-Wha, 2005)

South Korea as a country needs to foster an open attitude towards immigrants as it seeks to fuel enhanced economic growth amid demographic shifts such as its aging population and an increasing lower birth rate. This makes changes in migration policy inevitable because economic leadership is required in order to attract a diverse skilled workforce from foreign countries. This is so because this particular model has worked in more developed nations such as the U. S, U. K and Canada.

Koreans themselves on the other hand have also been migrating to the west in search of greener pastures, their preferred destination has been the United States of America, and between the period of 1970-2007 the number of Koreans living in the united states has risen dramatically by a whooping 27 folds from approximately 39,000 to a million people which is also the seventh largest immigrant group in the U. S (Aaron Terazas, 2009).

South Korean’s immigration from their native land is causing serious consequences to their mother country, this is because Korean immigrants rates of education has been found to be twice the national US average which creates business at a rate roughly greater than 70% than US population, they also maintain savings and accumulate wealth double the national average, their children exhibit higher rates of educational attainment and incomes which are approximately 40% higher than the US population, these resources including the manpower could have been beneficial to the South Korean economy had it not been migration (Fred & In-Bom, 2003)

References Moon ihlwan in Ansan (2005). Business week, Bloomberg, A chilly reception for guest workers in South Korea. Retrieved http://www. businessweek. com/magazine/content/05_06/b3919082. htm Yahoo News (2010). More than three in ten South Korean farmers marry immigrants. Retrieved http://news. yahoo. com/s/afp/20100707/lf_afp/lifestyleskoreamarriageimmigration_20100707160321

Young in Song, Ailee Moon, 1998, Korean American Women: from tradition to modern feminism, illustrated edition, Greenwood publishing. Hang Suk Song. Sociolinguistics, language policy in Korea for immigrants through international marriage. Retrieved http://webcache. googleusercontent. com/search? q=cache:WhyY262AuEAJ:www2. hawaii. edu/~cmhiggin/660%2520P1%2520F%252006/Song. doc+immigrants+marriage+South+korea&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ke

World traveler, E-2 and non immigrant work visas for English teachers, viewed http://hubpages. com/hub/E-2-and-Non-Immigrant-Work-Visa Lee Shin-Wha (2005). Immigration issues in Korea, Monterey institute of international studies, Monterey, California. C. Fred Bergsten, In-Bom Choe (2003). The Korean Diaspora in the world economy, Peterson Institute. Aaron Terrazas (2009). Korean immigrant in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. http://www. migrationinformation. org/USfocus/display. cfm? id=716

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