Probably, many of our readers believe that the Korea – a country without national minorities. This is not just, as I recall, and I wrote. In part, this is true, but it needs to be a clarification: although the minority in Korea and not, on its territory permanent population of about 24 thousand Chinese. Strictly speaking, Korean "huaqiao" (As is usually called overseas Chinese), a national minority are not, because they are citizens of the Republic of China (ie, in other words, Taiwan). However, unlike most foreigners who come to Korea only temporarily, for several years, the Korean Chinese living here for generations, and are in connection with certain rights, which are deprived of other foreigners.
Chinese communities there are now virtually everywhere. Emigration from China to the countries of Southeast Asia began several centuries ago, but in Korea the first Chinese immigrants appeared relatively recently, in the late XIX century,. At the time, hundreds of thousands of Koreans traveled abroad, including in China. However, there was also a counter-flow, albeit modest. Most of the people who arrived were seasonal unqualified workers. They arrived without families and, earning (or, if they were not lucky, not earning) money, they went back home soon. The Chinese usually came by the sea, and they were settled mainly in Seoul, as well as in Incheon – the sea gates of the Korean capital.
The main mass of the Chinese was in Korea in 1945-1950. Then the civil war raged in China, which gave rise to considerable refugee streams. Many Chinese, mostly supporters of defeat defeat "White" (that is, Homintang), fled abroad, including in Korea. In most of these refugees were immigrants from Shandong Province, which is located on the West Bank of the Yellow Sea, "against" Korean.
The ratio of the Korean authorities to refugees was ambiguous. On the one hand, the Khomintan government was an ally of the Government of South Korea, and most of the Chinese arriving in Korea were saved from the Communists – the deadly enemies of the then official Seoul. Therefore, refugees were taken, provided them with minimal assistance and gave permission for permanent residence in the country. On the other hand, it is known with what suspicion of the Korean government refers to any attempts of any foreigners to gain a foothold in Korea and put the roots there, especially since China, even just due to its size, always perceived in Korea with respectful caution. The nationalist regime of the President of Lee the son of Mana, who ruled Korea in the fifties, could not not treat immigrants wary.
The policy that the Korean authorities in 1945-1980. conducted in relation to immigrants from China, now in Korea is quite officially called "Repressively restrictive". The adoption of Korean citizenship for "Huaciao" It was everywhere difficult, and it made Korean Chinese "permanent foreigners". Most of them were rescued from the Communists with refugees (or at least he outdown themselves to get better in Korea), and it is clear that they officially remained citizens of the Khomintan Government of China, which, victims defeated in the civil war with the Communists, was entrenched On Taiwan Island. Being formally "Foreigners", Korean Chinese could not serve in government agencies and in the army. They came across with considerable problems with employment in private Korean firms, especially large, so the main activity for them was the independent small business. At first, almost most of the Chinese contained restaurants and laundries (traditional for the Chinese emigrants of the field of activity), but then their increasing amount began to engage in foreign trade, mainly with Taiwan. This is understandable: Taiwan, despite its small size, quickly turned into a global economic giant, and Korea did not stand in place. At the same time, despite all the restrictions, the Chinese were provided by the Korean authorities one important privilege – the right to be in the country on a permanent basis. In this regard, they differ from all other foreigners who are legally in Korea only inspired because they have official work here, and for which the loss of the workplace means immediate departure from the country.
The golden age of the Chinese community was the beginning of the seventies, when 100 thousand Chinese-Huqiao lived in Korea. Most Chinese Children of Seoul studied in the Seoul Chinese Secondary School, and only a few visited ordinary Korean schools. In the country there were shops of the Chinese book, a Chinese cultural center behaved very actively. Chinese confectionery, food and industrial shops, pharmacies, where you could buy traditional medicines (sometimes, alas, fake) worked in Korea.
In many ways, all this has been preserved to this day, however, from the end of the seventies, the population of the Chinese population and the activity of the Chinese community began to quickly decline. At about the time, the attitude to the Chinese minority on the part of the authorities has improved significantly, but, no matter how paradoxically, despite the explicit improvements in its formal status and in a real position, the Chinese have become in increasing quantities to leave the country and "come back" in Taiwan. However, the word "come back" In this case, not quite exactly: although the Chinese constantly living in South Korea and are citizens of Taiwan, the number of people from this island among them is measured literally units.
One of the reasons "Return" The fact that the Chinese youth, being graduates of Chinese schools, is experiencing large problems when entering Korean universities. Like Koreans and Japanese, the Chinese are extremely highly appreciated. In addition, in the Korean society, a person without a diploma is just no one, he has almost no chance of a career or to achieve material well-being. Therefore, more and more families began to move to Taiwan, where their children have much more opportunities to enter a good university and, accordingly, find a decent work after its end. The same Chinese that still decided to tie their fate with Korea, they became increasingly passing to Korean citizenship (good, the conditions for his adoption were slightly facilitated for them).
As a result, 24 thousand Chinese (Taiwan) citizens are located in Korea – four times less than a quarter of a century ago. However, the Chinese community remains a fairly noticeable force in the life of the country. Although the Chinese make up less than a tenth of all foreigners in Korea, they are the only ones who are here constantly. Other members of a foreign community – American military, our merchants, workers from South Asian countries, a variety of English and other languages - all of them in Korea, by and large, people temporary, none of them are going to hold here more than a few years. Chinese are an exception.