Facts and Figures
Net Migration Rate
0.8 migrants/ 1,000 population
USD 6,481 million

The foreign-born population in the Republic of Korea (ROK) has sharply risen since 1990s. As of December 2015, the Ministry of Justice recorded 1,899,519 foreign-born persons residing in ROK, such as migrant workers, marriage migrants, international students, business owners, etc. Currently, more than three percent of residents in ROK come from abroad, and by 2020, they are expected to constitute about five percent of the total population.

A country with the lowest birth rate (1.19) and the fastest ageing population among all OECD countries, ROK is expected to experience labor force decline from 2017. Experts have advised that continued and increased migration is a viable way to maintain an adequate labor force and economic growth.

Since 2004, the South Korean government has been inviting temporary labor migrants through Employment Permit System (EPS), a government-to-government bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with fifteen Southeast and Central Asian countries. A pioneering model of cross-border labor migration management in Asia, EPS has enhanced transparency in the recruitment process and reduced the cost of migration.

Marriage migration to ROK has also become more common since 2000. As of December 2015, 151,608 marriage migrants (female 84.6%, male 15.4%) reside in ROK. China (38.8%) and Vietnam (26.6%) are the two major countries of origin.  

The total number of people seeking asylum in the country has reached 15,250 as of December 2015. Among them, 576 (3.7%) have been granted refugee status, while 910 (5.9%), many of whom fled war-torn Syria received humanitarian status. ROK became the 29th refugee resettling country in the world in December 2015, welcoming 22 Myanmar refugees as part of a three-year refugee resettlement pilot for the first time in its history.

ROK gained IOM membership in 1988. Since then, IOM Seoul has been working closely with the government, donor agencies, NGOs, universities, and the private sectors, in the fields that revolve around IOM’s main activities.

Migration and development

IOM Seoul’s migration and development programme contributes to a better understanding of the links between international migration and development. It aims to harness the development potential of migration and empower migrants to use their resources gained abroad for sustainable development.

Main Project

  • The Role of Remittances as Effective Development Finance for Sustainable Development in Nepal

IOM Seoul’s counter-trafficking programme examines the nature and characteristics of labor exploitation and human trafficking. It aims to prevent trafficking in persons, to protect victims from the trade, and to establishing a platform to prosecute the perpetrators.

Main Project

  • Research on Human Trafficking for Labor Exploitation in East and South East Asia Fishing Industry
Refugee resettlement

IOM Seoul’s refugee resettlement programme assists the refugees to be equipped with practical information on the country of destination, set realistic goals, and develop skills and attitudes needed to succeed in the resettling country. It aims to increase their chances of a smoother integration and of becoming productive members of the society.

Main Project

  • Research on Refugee Resettlement in the Republic of Korea (Finalized in Oct 2015)
Humanitarian capacity-building

IOM Seoul’s Humanitarian Capacity Building programme helps increase regional and local capacities for humanitarian emergencies. It aims to encourage timely and more appropriate response by national NGOs, and thus increase coordination between ROK humanitarians and international donor agencies.

Main Project

  • ROK humanitarian workers capacity building project

IOM Seoul’s Movement programme provides transit service for resettling refugees transiting in Incheon airport on the way to the resettling country, United State. It aims to ensure the safe arrival of refugees, mostly from developing countries and with no previous travel experiences.

Main Project

  • Transit service for refugees under US Refugee Admission Program (USRAP)
Private sector partnerships

IOM Seoul’s private sector partnership collaborates with companies with extensive resources and technologies. It aims to address complex migration issues and create sustainable solution that can improve the quality of life for people including migrants.

Main Project

  • KT-IOM “Digital Island” in Bangladesh
Awareness-raising campaign

IOM Seoul’s awareness-raising campaign highlights the significant contributions of migrants to both the countries of origin and receiving countries. It aims to eradicate ungrounded rumors and prejudice towards migrants and to establish an important platform for a mutual understanding between migrants and citizens.

Main Project

  • International Migrants Day campaign

Photos from IOM Seoul International Migrants Day 2014

Photos from IOM Seoul International Migrants Day 2015


Contact information

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Rm 1203, 12F, Hyoryeong Bd. 32 Mugyoro Jung-gu
Republic of Korea


Tel: +82 2 6925 1360
Fax: +82 2 6925 1361
Email: iomseoul@iom.or.kr
Website: www.iom.or.kr
Facebook: www.facebook.com/iom.seoul
Twitter: www.twitter.com/IOMSeoul