By Kang Shin-who
The number of foreigners residing in South Korea has exceeded a million for the first time, indicating that the country is rapidly turning into a multicultural society.
According to the Ministry of Justice, Friday, a total of 1,000,254 foreigners live here _ among them, about 220,000 are residing illegally.
The non-Korean residents accounted for about two percent of the population of 49 million, up 15 percent from last year and a 158 percent jump from a decade ago.
By nationality, Chinese were the biggest group, taking up 44 percent of the total with 441,334. Among them, 266,764 are ethnic Koreans.
Americans came next with 117,938, 12 percent, followed by Vietnamese with 64,464, Filipinos with 50,264 and Thais with 42,792.
The number of foreigners, who hold long-term residence cards, was 724,967. Among them, 404,051 are here under the industrial trainee programs. About 104,000 foreigners have married Koreans and nearly 47,500 are studying here.
Thirty percent of foreign residents live in Gyeonggi Province with 28.5 percent in Seoul Metropolitan City. Incheon City has six percent and 5.8 percent, while 4.6 percent live in South and North Gyeongsang Province, respectively.
The Justice Ministry plans to introduce a new service system that enables foreigners to check their immigration information on the Internet in seven foreign languages.
Also, the ministry will control illegal immigrants more tightly and induce them to depart the country by their own volition by easing fines and immigration regulations.
As many as 101,984 illegal aliens are here from China, followed by Philippines with 14,749 and Vietnam with 14,333.