Koreans in India
|Regions with significant populations|
|New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore|
|Related ethnic groups|
There is a small community of Koreans in India, consisting largely of expatriate professionals from South Korea and their families, as well as some missionaries and international students at Indian universities.
There was known to have been Korean migration to India as early as the 1950s; the Korean Association of India was founded in that decade in New Delhi by three South Koreans who had gone into exile after being released from prison in their home country. However, large-scale growth in the community did not begin until the 1990s. In 1997, the Korean community in India numbered just 1,229 people, according to South Korean government statistics; it grew somewhat by 42% to 1,745 people by 2003, but then in the next six years it nearly quintupled in size, making them the 25th-largest Korean community in the world, behind Koreans in Guatemala and ahead of Koreans in Paraguay.
Chennai was the earliest hub of the Korean community in India, thanks to Hyundai's decision to open factories there in 1995. Koreans concentrated largely in the Kilpauk township, which has acquired the nickname of "Little Korea" as a result. However, the centre of gravity shifted away from Chennai as later communities in Delhi and Bangalore experienced rapid growth in the 2000s. More than half of all Koreans in India live in New Delhi. Another fifth live in Mumbai, according to 2005 consular statistics. The community in Chennai has also continued to grow; by 2009, media estimates suggested that as many as 3,000 Koreans might live in the Chennai area alone, up from about 700 in 2006.
Business and employment
Most corporate expatriates come for maximum three- to five-year stints before returning home. In New Delhi, major employers of South Korean expatriates include Samsung and LG Electronics. In the Chennai area, many work for Hyundai Motors and its suppliers. Some expatriates have also opened Korean restaurants, aimed largely at their co-ethnics rather than local Indians, in Chennai, New Delhi, and Bangalore, though not in Mumbai.
Roughly 200 Koreans are studying at local universities in New Delhi, mainly the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University. At Delhi University, with roughly 90 students from South Korea, they have even formed a Korean Students Union as well as a traditional Korean drum group. The Korean Association, with an office in the Hauz Khas Complex, also holds extracurricular Korean-language classes for Korean expatriate children. South Korean information technology students have also been attending courses at private institutes in the Pune area since 2002. There are also some North Korean students studying in New Delhi as well.
There is also an increasing number of South Korean primary and secondary students entering India on student visas; their parents send them unaccompanied to international boarding schools there in order to take advantage of inexpensive English-medium education, at roughly half the price of comparable schools in the United States or United Kingdom. In addition to language proficiency and cost, the reputation of Indian mathematics education, seen as even more rigorous than that in South Korea, let alone the US or UK, is another draw for parents. In 2006, there were 1,435 South Korean primary and secondary visa students in India, according to the Indian embassy in Seoul. For example, South Korean children comprised 16% of all students at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, making them the largest nationality behind Americans, and 20% of the students at the Woodstock School in Landour, Uttarakhand.
Unlike other foreigners, South Korean adult expatriates have enthusiastically joined in Hindi classes; about half of all foreign students enrolled in advanced Hindi classes or certificate or degree courses are Koreans, and major employers such as Samsung have organised year-long Hindi courses for their employees.
The Korean Association of India publishes a bimonthly magazine in Korean, Namaste India.
Koreans have formed a number of Christian churches in India, including two in New Delhi, two in Chennai, and one in Mumbai. Local Christian denominations also have Korean members, as in Pune, where the Church of North India began offering Korean-language services from 2005. Some Koreans also attend English-language Christian services, but where numbers permit, they have broken off to hold their own services in Korean.
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