Korean Canadians

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Korean Canadians
한국계 캐나다인
韓國系 캐나다人

Hanguk-gye Kaenada-in
Total population
218,140 or 0.58% of the total population (2021 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Toronto  · Coquitlam  · Surrey  · Burnaby  · Vaughan
Canadian English  · Canadian French  · Korean
Related ethnic groups
Korean Americans  · Korean Australians  · Korean New Zealanders
other Asian Canadians

Korean Canadians (French: Coréo-Canadiens) are Canadian citizens of full or partial Korean ancestry, as well with immigrants from North and South Korea. As of 2016, Korean Canadians are the 8th largest group of Asian Canadians.

Korean immigration to Canada began with seminary students in the 1940s and accelerated during the 1990s. According to the 2021 Canadian Census, there were 218,140 Korean Canadians in Canada.[2] According to South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there were 241,750 ethnic Koreans or people of Korean descent living in Canada as of 2019,[3] making them the fourth-largest Korean diaspora population (behind Koreans in China, Koreans in the United States, and Koreans in Japan, and ahead of Koreans in Russia, Koreans in Uzbekistan and Koreans in Australia).


The first Koreans to live in Canada were local Christians sent by Canadian missionaries as seminary students. Tae-yon Whang is largely regarded as the first recorded Korean immigrant to go to Canada. Tae-yon Whang visited Canada in 1948 as a mission-sponsored medical intern, and stayed in Toronto after his term was over.[4] Unlike Korean Americans who have relatively much longer history settling in the United States, very few settled in Canada; as late as 1965, the total permanent Korean population of Canada was estimated at only 70.[5] However, with the 1966 reform of Canadian immigration laws, South Korean immigration to Canada began to grow.[5] By 1969, there were an estimated 2000 Koreans in Canada.[6] Between 1970 and 1980, 18,148 Koreans immigrated to Canada, and another 17,583 arrived in the following decade.[7] In the late 1990s, South Korea became the fifth-largest source of immigrants to Canada.[8] Toronto has the country's largest absolute number of Koreans, but Vancouver is experiencing the highest rate of growth in its Korean population, with a 69% increase since 1996. Montreal was the third most popular destination for Korean migrants during this period.[9] In 2001, the number of Korean emigrants headed for Canada exceeded the number headed for the United States.[10] The number of temporary residents has also grown ever since the Canadian government granted a visa waiver to South Korea; South Korea was the largest supplier of international students to Canada in the late 1990s.[11] Aside from South Korea, some immigrants are also drawn from among the population of Koreans in China.[citation needed]

The 1990s growth in South Korean migration to Canada occurred at a time when Canadian unemployment was high and income growth was low relative to the United States.[12] One pair of researchers demonstrated that numbers of migrants were correlated with the exchange rate; the weakness of the Canadian dollar relative to the United States dollar meant that South Korean migrants bringing savings to Canada for investment would be relatively richer than those going to the United States.[13] Other factors suggested as drivers behind the growth of South Korean immigration to Canada included domestic anti-Americanism and the large presence of Canadian English teachers in local hagwon.[14]

According to a 2021 Statistics Canada article, Korean-Canadians have one of the highest poverty rates among all visible minorities hovering between 27% to 32%.[15]

Korean communities[edit]

Several Korean communities have developed in Canada since the migration after 1966. The two most concentrated areas are the Koreatown in Toronto and burgeoning Korean communities in Coquitlam and Vancouver.


Korean businesses and restaurants along Bloor Street in Toronto's Koreatown.

A portion of Seaton Village on Bloor St. from Bathurst St. to Christie St. was designated as Koreatown in 2004.[16] According to the 2001 census Toronto had roughly 43,000 Koreans living in the city,[17] and in 2011 the numbers have grown to 64,755.[18] The Korean community in Toronto has developed Koreatown such that it offers a Korean grocery store,[19] hairdressers, karaoke bars and a multitude of restaurants.[20] The City of Toronto describes Koreatown as "Korea Town is primarily a business district offering a wide range of Korean restaurants, high-end-fashion Korean boutiques, herbalists, acupuncturist and many other unique services and shops which are filled with made-in-Korea merchandise."[16] Koreatown Toronto is also known for its Spring Dano Festival which is run on the 5th day of 5th month of the Korean Lunar Calendar. The festival is run is the Christie Pits area and has been run for the past 21 years with the exception of 2013 when it was cancelled.[16][21]

Unofficially, the Willowdale/Newtonbrook areas in North York have large numbers of Korean businesses running from Yonge St. between Sheppard Ave. and Steeles Ave. Dubbed Koreatown North, it also has a growing number of Koreans residing in this area. This area first appeared in the 1990s and acceleration in the late 1990s onwards.[22] In the 2000s the community has expanded into York Region with the area centred along Yonge Street in what is referred to as Thornhill (Vaughan and Markham)

In Coquitlam and Vancouver[edit]

Korean communities in both Vancouver and Coquitlam are not officially designated as Koreatown, however their abundant population business districts do represent a developing Korean community.[23][24] British Columbia and Vancouver represent the second largest Korean community in Canada with 53,770, 49,880 of those living in Vancouver and the surrounding area.[25] The Korean community in Vancouver is located between Nicola and Denman Street and consists of numerous Korean restaurants as well as other businesses.[26] Recently several residents have been promoting the Vancouver Community arguing that it should be called Koreatown and officially designated as such.[26]

In addition to the community in Vancouver proper, the city of Coquitlam also fosters a growing Korean community. As of 2011 the population of Koreans in Coquitlam was approximately 7,900,[27] therefore does not service the same populations as Vancouver or Toronto. However the community at North Road and Lougheed Highway does consist of many Korean fried chicken houses, large grocery stores, and other small salons, most of which have large amounts of Korean signage.[24][28]


Province Koreans 2021 % 2021
Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 100,025 0.7%
Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 72,025 1.5%
Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 24,170 0.6%
Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec 10,655 0.1%
Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 4,250 0.3%
Flag of Nova Scotia.svg Nova Scotia 2,545 0.3%
Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 1,950 0.2%
Flag of New Brunswick.svg New Brunswick 1,480 0.2%
Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador 225 0.0%
Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg Prince Edward Island 130 0.1%
Flag of Yukon.svg Yukon 100 0.3%
Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg Northwest Territories 75 0.2%
Flag of Nunavut.svg Nunavut 15 0.0%
 Canada 217,650 0.6%

2007 figures from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade showed 86,084 Canadian citizens, 72,077 permanent residents, 20,738 people on student visas, and 19,271 other temporary residents.[29] The Canada 2001 Census recorded 101,715 Canadians of Korean descent, but Korean community leaders and media organisations suspected that it undercounted the population, especially mobile short-term residents such as English as a Foreign Language students. According to the Canada 1996 Census, 53.6% of Korean immigrants to Canada had attended a four-year tertiary institution, as compared to 23% of the general population. However, because their qualifications and technical certifications are often not recognised by Canadian employers, Korean immigrants often take jobs not commensurate with their education; 40% worked in family-owned businesses, and their average personal income is only 67% that of the average Canadian resident.[7]

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Census Profile, 2016 Census, Statistics Canada
  2. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (February 9, 2022). "Profile table, Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population - Canada [Country]". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  3. ^ 재외동포현황(2019) [Total number of overseas Koreans (2019)] (in Korean). South Korea: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  4. ^ Kim, Jung Gun (1984). "Polyphony". Multicultural History Society of Ontario. 6: 176–180. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Yoon 2006, p. 17
  6. ^ Kim, Jung G (Spring–Summer 1982). "Korean-language press in Ontario". Polyphony: The Bulletin of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. 4 (1): 82.
  7. ^ a b Yoon 2006, p. 18
  8. ^ Kwak 2004, p. 8
  9. ^ Kwak 2004, p. 3
  10. ^ Kwak 2004, pp. 7–8
  11. ^ Kwak 2004, p. 10
  12. ^ Han & Ibbott 2005, p. 157
  13. ^ Han & Ibbott 2005, p. 155
  14. ^ Han & Ibbott 2005, p. 160
  15. ^ "Asian Heritage Month... By the numbers". May 4, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c "Korea Town BIA - Operate & Grow Your Business - Doing Business | City of Toronto". .toronto.ca. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  17. ^ "The Korean Community in Canada". Statcan.gc.ca. August 28, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  18. ^ "File not found - Fichier non trouvé". 12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  19. ^ "Pat Central - Toronto Gta Asian Grocery Network". Patmart.net. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  20. ^ "Singing praises of Koreatown | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. November 28, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  21. ^ Korean Dano Spring Festival333 personen vinden dit leuk. "Korean Dano Spring Festival". Facebook. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  22. ^ https://landmarksjournal.geog.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Fraser-2019-Koreatown-for-Whom.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  23. ^ "About us | Koreatown Vancouver". Koreatownvancouver.wordpress.com. May 26, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Say 'Annyeong Haseyo' to Korea Town". Thev3h.com. August 13, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  25. ^ "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". 2.statcan.gc.ca. May 8, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Koreatown Vancouver | Experience a little bit of Korea in Vancouver". Koreatownvancouver.wordpress.com. May 26, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  27. ^ "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". 2.statcan.gc.ca. May 8, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  28. ^ Gary (November 28, 2007). "The Daily Kimchi - Korea Blog: Eating Korean Food in Coquitlam". Thedailykimchi.blogspot.ca. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  29. ^ MOFAT 2009


External links[edit]