Seoul’s Steamy Summer (Updated)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been away from Seoul for much of the summer, but now that I’m back it’s impossible not to hear all the complaining — among expats and locals alike — about the heat.

They have a point, at least in terms of their expectations. This summer has indeed been hotter than usual, especially this month, when the daily low temperature on one recent day actually exceeded the average high. (I updated the chart on Aug. 24).

Historically, the air begins cooling slightly in August. Not so this year…

Is South Korea’s National Assembly More Liberal Than South Koreans?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics, South Korea

Members of South Korea’s legislative branch, known as the National Assembly, recently took a poll to determine where they land on the ideological spectrum. The group as a whole appears to be getting more liberal, according to an analysis of the results.

The poll, conducted by the Korea JoongAng Daily and the Korean Political Science Association, gave lawmakers a 15-question ideological test. The questions focused on the Korean alliance with the United States, relations with North Korea, corporate reform, welfare and gay marriage, among other topics.

Each lawmaker scored on a scale from 0 (liberal) to 10 (conservative). According to JoongAng Daily:

Scores below 4 are considered liberals. Scores between 4 and 6 are considered moderates while scores higher than 6 are seen as conservatives.

The outcome of the poll shows an average score for the lawmakers of 3.9, 0.7 points lower, or more left-leaning, than the last joint survey conducted in the early days of the 19th National Assembly four years ago….

The outcome showed that the 20th Assembly, though 83 lawmakers weren’t polled, has moved to the left on the ideological spectrum in what some see as a response to growing calls from the public to rein in widening economic inequality.

A sample of the South Korean public also took the poll. The respondents were moderate, scoring 5 on average — more conservative than the average score for lawmakers: 3.9. The public is more liberal than the Saenuri party and more conservative than the Minjoo, the ideologically differing parties that control the assembly.

I remixed the newspaper’s graphic a bit, choosing a dot chart over a line chart. The result:

Thoughts?

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Air Quality in Seoul, China, U.S.

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: News, South Korea

The view from our apartment in Seoul. Some days are better than others.

The view from our apartment in Seoul. Some days are better than others.

The air quality in Seoul — a mega city home to 70,000 taxis and 10 million residents — can get rough at times, especially for people already sensitive to pollution. It’s been an adjustment for my family, though it could be worse.

We could live in Beijing or Shanghai.

This chart, from a recent work collaboration with my wife, shows the number of days in 2015 that the pollutant PM2.5 reached certain health thresholds in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index. It compares Seoul to Beijing and Shanghai in China and New York and Los Angeles in the U.S.

Seoul isn’t terrible — but it isn’t great, either:

air-quality-days

South Korean Women (Especially Young Women) Fear Crime More Than Men

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, Demographics, South Korea

The recent murder of a young woman in Seoul’s Gangnam district has prompted discussion about the treatment of women in South Korean society, including lingering gender inequalityharassment and even physical violence.

Perhaps that concern — expressed anecdotally in media stories about the crime and the angry public response it provoked — could help explain why women and men here view the threat of crime differently.

A national government survey two years ago asked about a variety of societal issues, including the “main cause” of South Koreans’ anxiety.
korea-crime-gender

Murder Rates in the U.S., Korea

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, South Korea

korea-homicideNote: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

Among the many benefits of living in South Korea is its relative safety. Crime, it seems, is low — even in Seoul.

But a particularly heinous crime recently — the slaying of a young woman in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district — has rocked the country and got me thinking again about crime here.

How common, for example, is murder?

Mapping South Korea’s Foreigners

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, South Korea

korea-foreigners-seoul

Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

This week I looked at the population of foreign residents in South Korea, charting national origin and geographic distribution around the country. But if you don’t live here (and even if you do) that geography can be quite difficult to absorb without maps.

So, after a year of procrastination, I finally got the courage to tackle the detailed census and geography files from the Korean Statistical Information Service (you try loading Hangul characters in a database!).

South Korea’s Foreigners, Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, South Korea

Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

Yesterday we looked a the most-recent data on foreign residents in South Korea, breaking down their home countries and new locations.

But how has this changed over time?

Where are Korea’s Foreigners From?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, South Korea

Separating foreigners from the locals at a recent street festival celebrating Buddha's birthday. Matt Stiles/The Daily Viz

Separating foreigners from the locals at a recent street festival celebrating Buddha’s birthday.

Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

I had to move across the globe, but I’ve finally cracked The One Percent.

Not in wealth, of course. But I am one of about 24,000 civilian Americans living in South Korea, population 50.2 million. So that means I’m quite seriously in the minority. In my central Seoul district, for example, there are about 1,500 registered* Americans** — among 200,000 residents overall.

The country has just over a million registered residents from other countries, most of them from Asia. How does that foreign population break down by country, gender and province? These three treemaps help explain the distribution (mobile users, skip to the bottom of this post):

MEN vs. WOMEN
The foreign population here skews slightly male, perhaps because of the influx of Southeast Asian factory workers. In some parts of the country, however, the population skews the other way. In Seoul, for example, women from several countries — Indonesia being one — are more evenly distributed compared to the countryside, perhaps because city dwellers are more likely to hire domestic workers. Here’s a breakdown by gender and country (click the image for a larger view):

country-sexSM

COUNTRY & PROVINCE/CITY
China, by far, sends the most foreigners to South Korea. That’s true for Han Chinese, but also residents who are the decedents of Koreans who at some point received Chinese citizenship. (The Korean peninsula shares a 800-mile border with China). The United States, to my surprise, if pretty far down the list of countries represented by foreign residents here.

country-provinceSM

PROVINCE/CITY & COUNTRY
The largest proportion of foreigners reside in Gyeonggi province, the country’s most populous state, following closely by Seoul. Together they represent close to half the country’s population — and most of its foreigners. But we are sprinkled throughout the country:

province-countrySM

Larger, interactive versions of these treemaps, sketches in Tableau Public, can be viewed here: Gender | Country | Province.

They aren’t great on mobile, however. So here are two tables.

COUNTRY & GENDER

table-sex

PROVINCE/CITY & GENDER

table-province

* The data come from an official source: The Korean Statistical Information Service. But it’s unclear what “registered” foreigners means — it’s not included in the metadata — and some foreigner totals differ.

** I live across the street from Yongsan Garrison, headquarters to the roughly 28,000 American forces stationed around the country. The troops there obviously aren’t included in South Korea’s immigration figures.

Someday I’ll Say Goodbye to Seoul. I Might Miss the Weather.

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been in Seoul just over a year, and I can’t stay here forever, so I’m starting to think seriously about the next city. For me, a key consideration is weather (and, you know, work and kids’ schools and such).

Seoul’s been pretty great, especially the relatively mild summers. But what can I expect from the next town? Here are the average monthly temperatures for the likely contenders. Some are warmer than others:

weather

Or maybe one of these 269 places?

Data source: NOAA Comparative Climate Data

Dramatic Coastline Changes Around Korea’s Main Airport

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea

Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is the first in an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

When we travel to and from South Korea, we first always check if Expedia will give us a rebate then we take off! We’re often forced to trek out to Incheon International Airport (this country’s Dulles). The massive airport, located on an island about an hour west of Seoul, opened in 2001 and is now one of the largest and busiest in the world.

I had no idea, until today, how dramatically the shoreline around the airport has changed in the last three decades. Previously separated islands along the Yellow Sea coast were joined together as reclaimed land. The airport is now connected to the metropolis by the Incheon Grand Bridge, which opened in 2009.

For context, here’s a current Google Map showing the region:

incheon-google

Now check out how much the land area has changed and the urban growth has expanded, as depicted by these Landsat images acquired in 1981 and again in 2013. The Landsat archive contains 40 years of data, allowing users to see changes (like those in my former home, Washington, D.C.) to the Earth’s landscape. Check it out.

Here’s a before/after view of the airport:

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incheon_then

incheon_now

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