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Survey: Over 28% of Expats in S. Korea Report Feelings of Loneliness

Written: 2023-09-28 11:51:32Updated: 2023-09-28 11:53:12

Anchor: The national statistics agency recently published the results of a survey that included the perceptions of foreign residents on life in South Korea. Although largely positive, nearly 30 percent admitted to feelings of loneliness, while almost one in five reported that they faced discrimination.
Tom McCarthy breaks down the numbers.

Report: Every fall, South Korean families across the country gather together for the Chuseok thanksgiving holiday, but for foreigners, it can be a lonely time.

In fact, loneliness was a leading struggle facing foreigners according to the results of a Statistics Korea survey conducted in 2022 on life in the country that was released on Tuesday, which found that 28-point-eight percent of respondents reported such a feeling while living here. 

Among a foreign population of more than one-point-75 million per the 2022 census, the survey found that eight out of ten were generally satisfied with life in South Korea but still encountered problems.

The language barrier was the primary source of difficulty at 43-point-four percent followed by “loneliness,” which just pipped “cultural differences” in third.

That loneliness encompassed a range of scenarios in which support is often sought, with nearly 20 percent of foreigners reporting that they have no one to turn to for help in times of illness, while almost 19 percent said they have no one to talk to when they are feeling down. Nearly 39 percent said they have no emergency financial support here.

The survey also found that nearly two in ten foreigners have experienced discrimination in some form, particularly at work or in restaurants, stores or banks over the past year.

Of those who responded in the affirmative, 58 percent said they were discriminated against due to their nationality, while 28 percent attributed it to their lack of Korean proficiency and eight percent felt it was based on their appearance.

Despite the hardships, 40-point-eight percent of the 25-thousand respondents were “very satisfied” with expat life here, while only one-point-nine percent reported that they were “a little” to “very dissatisfied.”

The director of the statistics agency expressed hope that the results would serve as a catalyst for efforts to promote integration and improvements in the lives of foreigners as the country’s demographics change, with emigrants comprising around three-point-five percent of the entire population last year. 
Tom McCarthy, KBS WORLD Radio News.

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