The Korea Herald


Biggest immigration concern among youths, low-income earners: Competing with foreign workers

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : March 21, 2024 - 15:27

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Most Koreans support the establishment of an independent government agency for immigration services, despite worries among some Korean youths and low-earners that it will lead to competition with foreign workers for job opportunities, recent data showed.

According to a public perception survey of 1,000 adults conducted by a private research firm on behalf of the Migration Research and Training Center, 68.6 percent of the respondents approved of the agency, while 15.2 percent said the agency was "unnecessary."

The most commonly chosen reason for disapproval was the perceived rise of social costs, with 51.3 percent aggreeing that it "will increase social expenses with the rise of illegal immigration, crime rate and welfare expenses, etc."

However, among respondents aged between 19 and 29 and workers those who earn less than 1.5 million won ($1,131) a month, "difficulties in protecting Korean citizens due to job competition (with foreigners)" was the most common reason, gaining 59.3 percent and 60 percent of respondents respectively.

"Given that it is mainly younger and lower-income individuals who compete with immigrants for jobs, these certain groups worry that an increase in immigration will lead to fierce competition for job opportunities," the report explained.

Other reasons behind the disapproval in all age groups included "inappropriateness to tackle low birth rate issues through immigration (34.9 percent)," "increase the inefficiency of propelling immigration policies (23 percent)," and "concern of becoming a multiracial and multicultural country (17.8 percent)."

The South Korean government has been pushing for the establishment of an independent government agency handling immigration affairs as related departments are scattered under different ministries. The government also hopes the establishment becomes a partial solution to the country's population decline.