As long as you look on migration as a problem, as something to solve, you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to look at it as a human reality that’s as old as humankind. It’s mankind’s oldest poverty reduction strategy. As citizens, we have to find a way to manage it.
William Lacy Swing, Director General International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2017
By far most of the migrants to South Korea come from neighbouring China – more than 600 000 – followed by Vietnam with more than 100 000 migrants and the USA. Als other, less developed countries from the region, like Philippines or Thailand have been sending migrants to South Korea.
From the UN Migration Report 2017: Between 1990 and 2017, the number of international migrants worldwide rose by over 105 million, or by 69 per cent. Most of this increase occurred from 2005 to 2017, when some 5.6 million migrants were added annually, compared to an average of 2.5 million from 1990 to 2005.
In the period between 1990 and 2000, the international migrant stock grew at an average annual rate of change of 1.2 per cent, compared to 2.4 per cent from 2000 and 2010 and 2.3 per cent from 2010 to 2017. Between 1990 and 2017, the developed regions gained 64 million international migrants, which was 60 per cent of the 105 million added worldwide, whereas the developing regions added 41 million, or 40 per cent.
While the North grew at a steady average annual rate of 2.3 per cent in the period from 1990 to 2010, this rate has since declined to 1.6 per cent in the period from 2010 to 2017. For the South, the average annual rate of change was slightly negative (-0.1 per cent) from 1990 to 2000, but has been positive since then. The number of international migrants living in the South grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 per cent from 2000 to 2010 and at 3.2 per cent from 2010 to 2017, surpassing the pace of increase in the North.