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 & 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.
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:
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
PROVINCE/CITY & GENDER
* 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.