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South Korea’s Exodus: Understanding the Complexities Behind the Growing Immigration Trends

The Koreans who were eating the “sudden death prevention set meal” and eating it to death began to escape.
According to a 2023 survey , 56% of young people in South Korea aged 20-30 want to immigrate overseas. The authoritative Korean marriage information company also said that more than 70% of Korean couples aged 20-30 are considering immigrating.
According to statistics from the Korean Immigration Service, South Korea has steadily exported 600,000 people every year in the past ten years.
You know, South Korea only had a total of 249,000 births in 2022.

One end “cuts the source” and the other “opens the flow”, and the main one is to make ends meet.
The prediction of South Korea’s disappearance is getting closer.
As a developed country in Asia and once one of the Four Asian Tigers, South Korea’s economic growth rate was once called the “Miracle on the Han River.”
In a country like this, why are the citizens desperately trying to escape?
Where do they want to escape to?

The “invisible” immigration country
In fact, judging from the “absolute value” of the number of immigrants, South Korea is not a big immigrant country.
In 2020, there were about 7 million registered overseas immigrants in South Korea. Compared with India’s 18 million overseas immigrants, South Korea’s immigration scale is not ranked at all in the world.

But everything should not just look at the numerical value, but also the proportion.
You know, the total population of South Korea is only over 51 million, of which 7 million have immigrated overseas, which is equivalent to 15% of Koreans, who are not in the country at all.
Today, there are 1.1 million Korean immigrants and 2.2 million Chinese immigrants in the United States. Looking at numbers alone, the total number of Chinese immigrants in the United States is twice that of South Korea.
But China’s population base is 28 times that of South Korea.
South Korea’s “ Run History ” actually has a long history.
Many of the earliest Asian faces in American dramas were Korean.

In the eyes of many Koreans, the United States is the “terminal station” for immigrants.
According to statistics from the Global Immigration Website, except for the global epidemic in 2019, which affected the growth of immigrants, the total number of Korean immigrants in the United States has maintained strong growth in every decade since 1980 .

Today, more and more Koreans are traveling overseas, and their destinations are not limited to the United States.

Chinese people traveled across the ocean to travel to the New World. They wanted to see something exotic. As a result, they entered three supermarkets in a row. From the boss to the employees, they were all Koreans who spoke loose English.

Many people began to wonder:
Why do so many Koreans continue to “moisten”?
Did those Koreans who left ” run ” get what they wanted?

Koreans, why do you want to immigrate?
In 1986, Korean Kim Song-joon and his wife came to New York with their 7-year-old son.
Like many immigrants at the time, they wanted to provide their son Ron with more advantages and opportunities.
A BBC report documented his experience in the United States.
As the second batch of compatriots to arrive in the immigrant wave, he received full support from the “predecessor immigrants”.
From the moment they set foot in the United States, several Korean friends who moved to New York five years ago began to arrange an “arranged” settlement for Kim Song-jun:
First, he stood outside the airport arrivals hall and held up a nameplate to greet him, then drove him all the way into the city, and finally transferred to him a store in the East End of New York that was on sale.

At first, Jin Songjun felt uneasy about the foreplay-like reception of the pig killing plate.
However, he soon discovered that this kind of “arranged” mutual aid was a common local custom, and Korean immigrants in various cities usually formed close-knit communities spontaneously .

Most Koreans who immigrated during this period embraced the American dream.
South Koreans’ longing for the United States is well documented.
In 1945, with the help of the United States, South Korea was liberated from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule, but the US troops stationed in South Korea did not leave with the end of the war.
During the decades of Cold War and pro-American regime in South Korea, the US military stationed in the country played a role as a propaganda media in the social context of the time, significantly affecting South Korea’s economy and culture, and creating a colorful ” American dream”.

But in fact, Korean immigrants around the 1980s generally felt regretful.
They were severely hit by the background of the times and had an information gap.
“Although most Koreans have a college education, they often ” said a professor at Queens College in New York.
They set off following the land of freedom and wealth in their minds, but when they actually arrived, they found that what was waiting for them was an old and solidified class and private property that had long been divided up.
According to surveys, nearly 60 % of the second batch of Korean immigrants are highly educated, but they face more severe entrepreneurial difficulties than the first batch .
When Ron looked back on his parents’ choices, he said that if they had waited until the rise of South Korea in the 1990s, they might not have chosen to immigrate.
But just 50 years later, the new generation of immigrants in South Korea had a different purpose.
Tom, a Korean student studying abroad, whose parents are businessmen in South Korea, plans to complete the process from graduate school to work and settlement, and then join his parents who later came to the UK and never return to South Korea.

But this international student, who seems to have a smooth life, exudes a cautious sense of restraint .
Tom is very good at dealing with people. He prepares greeting cards and gifts for all his roommates on all major and major holidays. During Korean festivals, he would spend a whole day in the kitchen preparing rice cake salad, shredded rice cakes, stir-fried beef with Korean spicy sauce and other Korean-style foods, and would knock on the doors of his roommates one by one to invite them to the party.
Later, friends learned that Tom had been a victim of campus bullying in high school.
In Korean campuses, bullying methods are as ancient and mysterious as martial arts secrets. From verbal abuse to pushing and kicking, there are endless tricks.
Under high pressure , Tom became overweight due to overeating and was once plagued by depression and dropped out of school.
Studying abroad was the best solution after discussing it with his family.

Under a post for study abroad consultation, a student said why he wanted to leave South Korea:
“Because they won’t compare themselves to each other, they won’t focus only on appearance, and they won’t be compared by their parents.”

A Korean netizen described today’s Korean society in his eyes: “As long as you don’t starve to death, you will be considered happy.”

The predecessors of the 1980s moved out to pursue opportunities; the reasons why the new generation of Koreans immigrated are somewhat bitter.

The “cancer” of Korean society
If there is anything in Korean society that forces people to “have to moisturize”, bullying must be one of them.
In South Korea, bullying is like a “cancer” that is difficult to cure.
According to statistics from the Korean Human Rights Commission, 73% of office workers in South Korea have been bullied in the workplace, and nearly 87% of school students have participated in or suffered school bullying.
The Korean drama “Dark Glory” describes the terrifying methods of campus bullying in South Korea:
Sexual assault, beating, heated curling iron…

What’s even more frightening is that the violent plot of “Dark Glory” is not fabricated out of thin air, but is based on a real bullying incident that occurred in Cheongju Girls’ High School in South Korea in 2006. The real incident is more cruel than what is shown in the TV series.
The military service period left over from the U.S. garrison period is also a hot spot for bullying. This year’s policy to improve bullying in the military is particularly illustrative of the problem:
In the Korean conscript barracks, seniority was divided by month. In the latest anti-bullying policy, the seniority in the military camp has been changed every six months. As a result, there are only two seniority changes during the entire military service.
Others improve bullying: prohibit seniors from bullying newcomers .
South Korea improves bullying: prohibiting seniors from becoming seniors .
As comical as it is, this initiative did significantly improve bullying in the military.

Bullying is rampant. On the one hand, it stems from the strict hierarchy of seniority and inferiority in Confucian culture; on the other hand, it is also due to the single value orientation of Korean society.
When everyone is “crossing the single-plank bridge with thousands of troops and horses”, people who have nothing to lose can only gain a sense of superiority by suppressing others.
Naturally, the tense social atmosphere did not just form in the past two years, but it has become increasingly serious in the past two years.
Under the influence of the epidemic, it has become increasingly difficult to find employment and unemployment is rapid in South Korea.
In the month of April 2020 alone, South Korea lost 1.1 million jobs. In the first half of 2021, South Korea’s unemployment rate reached its highest point in 21 years, and the actual unemployment rate among young people aged 15-29 nationwide was as high as a quarter.

But the most fantastic set of data comes from this year.
In November 2023, South Korea set an extremely eye-catching figure for the unemployment rate on record: 2.3%. This figure is still very impressive even when compared with countries with low unemployment rates.
But if you take another look, you will find something strange:
This set of unemployment rate data includes the employed population over 60 years old, which increased by 379,000, the largest increase, making up for the decrease in the employed population in other age groups.

In order to find a stable job, many people in South Korea study 16 hours a day, just to compete with 200,000 people for more than 4,000 civil servant positions.
In 2021, 13,352 people died by suicide in South Korea, with an average of 36.6 people dying by suicide every day . The suicide rate ranked first among OECD member countries.
It is human nature to seek advantages and avoid disadvantages to leave a bad place and run towards a good place.
As we all know, South Korea’s fertility rate has accelerated its decline since reaching an inflection point in 2019. Due to various factors, South Korea gradually opened up immigration.
According to many immigration agencies, South Korea is one of the few immigration destinations in developed countries that has low cost, low risk, fast speed and no immigration supervision.

In 2020, the permanent foreign population in South Korea accounted for close to 5% of the total population.
This is not enough.
The latest plan of the South Korean Ministry of Education is to increase the number of foreign students studying in South Korea to 300,000 in 2027. At the same time, the threshold for issuing visas to foreigners has also been relaxed to “people who live in South Korea but are employed by foreign employers to work remotely.” ” and “foreign young people who are interested in Korean culture and want to receive Korean culture training.”
The government’s explanation for this series of policies is to “strengthen the introduction of talent.”
But the Koreans who couldn’t bear it long ago gave up.
Last year, Daegu City, South Korea, planned to build an Islamic mosque to attract local Pakistani students to worship. This approach aroused strong protests from local people. They repeatedly clashed with the construction team and Pakistani students at the construction site, and even placed pig head arrays in the temple. , and also set up a barbecue grill to cook charcoal-grilled pork neck.
In the end, the Supreme Court of South Korea declared the temple legal and sent armed police to drive away the protesting people.
But what is interesting is that according to many self-media reports, the fertility rate of foreigners who immigrated to South Korea after arriving in South Korea is far lower than the level in their home countries. There is quite a feeling that when oranges grow in Huaibei, they become tangerines.
This statement cannot be supported by data, but many people believe it.
The root cause of the declining fertility rate and population loss in Korean society lies in the society itself.
After all, teacher Zhao Zhongxiang said long ago:
When the environment is no longer suitable for survival, animals will first stop reproducing, followed by the Great Migration.