According to a report by the Ministry of Interior and Security, the number of foreign residents, defined as foreign nationals residing in the country for more than 90 days or naturalized Koreans and their children, was 2.15 million in November 2020, up from 2.22 million the same month a year earlier.
As of November of last year, foreign residents made up 4.1% of the country’s total population.
This is the first time that the country has reported a decline in its foreign population since the relevant statistics were first compiled in 2006.
The drop is largely due to a slower influx of international workers and students after the COVID-19 pandemic made cross-border travel difficult.
The number of foreign nationals during this month marked a decline of 4.7% year-on-year, and among them, the population of foreign workers and students registered a year-on-year decline of 11.6% and 11 , 2%, respectively.
Of the total foreign nationals, Chinese accounted for 44.2%, followed by Vietnamese with 11.8%, Thais 9.8% and Americans 3.5%.
Meanwhile, the number of naturalized Koreans stood at 13,400 in November last year, up 7.2% from the previous year.
Gyeonggi Province surrounding the capital Seoul hosted the highest number of foreign residents by region, with 715,331, or 33.3% of the total foreign population.
Seoul was home to around 20 percent, followed by Incheon, west of Seoul, at 6.1 percent.
At the city level, Ansan of Gyeonggi Province had the largest foreign population of 93,639.
The ministry said the statistics were compiled to help central and municipal government agencies formulate policies to help foreign residents better settle in the country. (Yonhap)