Koreans in Africa

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Koreans in Africa
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 South Africa 3,949[1]
 Libya 964[1]
 Nigeria 800[2]
 Kenya 726[1]
 Egypt 685[1]
 Ghana 614[1]
 Morocco 310[1]
 Tanzania 238[1]
 Botswana 200[3]
 Uganda 196[1]
 Ivory Coast 180[1]
 Ethiopia 174[1]
 Senegal 164[1]
Korean, English, others
Related ethnic groups

Koreans in Africa form a very small population, estimated at only 9,200 people in 2005, with almost half of these living in South Africa. South Korean nationals can be found in 49 countries of Africa, including the continent and its surrounding islands; they have established schools in 19 of those countries.[1] They form a small part of the Korean diaspora.


South Africa considered importing labourers from Korea as early as 1903 in order to control rising mining wages, but eventually decided on Chinese workers instead.[4]

North Koreans[edit]

In the past, North Korea ran several military and civil assistance programmes to some of Africa's more radical states, including Guinea, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mali and Tanzania. In return, North Korea was able to gain diplomatic recognition and other leverage; they were successful in ensuring South Korea was unable to join the Non-Aligned Movement. In Egypt's case the relationship was especially close; North Korean pilots flew Egyptian fighters in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Egypt exported to North Korea scud missiles. Egypt even had diplomatic relations established with Israel before it had relations with South Korea.[5]

North Korea was also involved in several armed insurgency movements in Angola, Rhodesia and in the Seychelles, and provided support to the African National Congress and South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). In 1984, 3,000 North Korean military advisers were dispatched to Angola, and later were reportedly engaged in combat operations with the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA).[6] Around the same time there were some North Koreans in Lesotho involved in training for the Youth League of the Basotho National Party's Vincent Makhele faction, but they were expelled due to pressure from South Africa in early 1986.[7]

In the 1990s and beyond, as governments in Africa became more pragmatic and South Korea's economic position became clearly superior to that of the North's, North Korea's influence in Africa declined.

South Koreans[edit]

During the wave of Korean labour migration to the Arab world in the 1970s and 1980s, many Koreans went to Arab countries of North Africa, including Libya, and to a lesser extent, Egypt and Sudan. Though Libya did not receive its first South Korean workers until 1977, it was the only Arab country which experienced consistent growth in the number of Korean workers between 1981 and 1985. By 1985 it had already become the Arab world's second most popular destination, with 23,138 arrivals from South Korea. In total, from 1977 until 1985, 103,953 South Koreans went to Libya.[8] The Korean community in Nigeria consists of 550 construction engineers from South Korean construction companies Daewoo and Hyundai Heavy Industries, 240 local residents, and 10 missionaries sent by Christian churches in South Korea.[2] There is also a small population of roughly 200 Koreans in Botswana, largely formed by employees of South Korean automobile manufacturers; 154 live in the capital Gaborone.[3] In late 2008, there were media reports that roughly 30 or 40 immigration brokers in Seoul's Gangnam-gu were helping South Korean parents to obtain permanent residency in Mali and other African countries so that they could enroll their children in international schools at home.[9]


The Cairo Korean School, founded on 5 December 1979 is Africa's only Korean day school and the earliest registered Korean educational institution of any kind in Africa; it enrolled 84 elementary school students and 119 middle school students as of 2007.[10] Weekend Korean language schools for South Korean nationals have been established in eighteen other African countries as well, enrolling a total of 640 students. These are listed below (ordered by date of founding of the earliest school):

Country City Date School name ↓ Teachers
Students ↓
Levels Ref.
Kenya Nairobi 1 March 1981 나이로비한인학교
Nairobi Han-in Hakgyo
Nairobi Koreans' School
8 58 Kindergarten & elementary [11]
Ghana 1 September 1981 재 가나 토요한글학교
Jae Gana Toyo Han-geul Hakgyo
Ghana Saturday Hangul School
6 72 Kindergarten to high school [12]
Ethiopia 24 February 1984 주 이디오피아한글학교
Ju Idiopia Han-geul Hakgyo
Ethiopia Hangul School
2 13 Elementary [13]
Senegal Dakar 1 October 1986 다카르한글학교
Dakareu Han-geul Hakgyo
Dakar Hangul School
7 23 Elementary & middle school [14]
Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan 8 July 1987 아비쟝한글학교
Abijyang Han-geul Hakgyo
Abidjan Hangul School
8 49 Kindergarten & elementary [15]
Mauritania Nouadhibou 15 April 1988 누아디브한글학교
Nuadibeu Han-geul Hakgyo
Nouadhibou Hangul School
2 9 Kindergarten to high school [16]
Morocco Rabat 7 October 1989 카사,라바트한글학교
Kasa, Rabateu Han-geul Hakgyo
Casablanca-Rabat Hangul School
5 22 Kindergarten to middle school [17]
Agadir 12 January 1991 아가딜한글학교
Agadil Han-geul Hakgyo
Agadir Hangul School
3 11 Kindergarten to middle school [18]
Egypt Cairo 1 September 1990 카이로한국학교부설토요학교
Kairo Han-guk Hakgyo Buseol Toyo Hakgyo
Weekend School of Cairo Korean School
3 15 Elementary [19]
Gabon 21 January 1991 가봉한글학교
Gabong Han-geul Hakgyo
Gabon Hangul School
3 16 Elementary [20]
Nigeria Lagos 21 January 1991 재 나이지리아 토요한글학교
Jae Naijiria Toyo Han-geul Hakgyo
Nigeria Saturday Hangul School
4 12 Elementary [21]
Tanzania Dar es Salaam 1 May 1993 탄자니아한글학교
Tanjania Han-geul Hakgyo
Tanzania Hangul School
5 27 Kindergarten to middle school [22]
Togo Lomé 2 July 1994 재 토고 토요한글학교
Jae Togo Toyo Han-geul Hakgyo
Togo Saturday Hangul School
4 27 Kindergarten to high school [23]
South Africa Johannesburg 1 March 1992 요하네스버그한글학교
Yohaneseubeogeu Han-geul Hakgyo
Johannesburg Korean School
22 110 Kindergarten to middle school [24]
Pretoria 4 February 1995 프레토리아한글학교
Peuretoria Han-geul Hakgyo
Pretoria Hangul School
8 46 Kindergarten to middle school [25]
Cape Town 10 March 2001 케이프타운한글학교
Keipeutaun Han-geul Hakgyo
Cape Town Hangul School
10 30 Kindergarten to high school [26]
Uganda 1 April 1995 우간다한인학교
Uganda Han-in Hakgyo
Uganda Koreans' School
6 26 Kindergarten & elementary [13]
Tunisia Tunis 11 November 1996 튀니스한글학교
Tuiniseu Han-geul Hakgyo
Tunis Hangul School
4 10 Elementary [27]
Zimbabwe Harare 3 March 1997 하라레한글학교
Harare Han-geul Hakgyo
Harare Hangul School
4 10 Kindergarten & elementary [28]
Botswana Gaborone 10 January 1998 보츠나와한글학교
Bocheunawa Han-geul Hakgyo
Botswana Hangul School
5 23 Elementary to high school [29]
Cameroon Douala 1 January 2000 두알라한글학교
Dualla Han-geul Hakgyo
Douala Hangul School
4 25 Kindergarten to middle school [30]
Yaoundé 1 January 2000 야운데한글학교
Yaunde Han-geul Hakgyo
Yaoundé Hangul School
8 12 Elementary to high school [31]
Libya 1 January 2000 재리비아주말한글학교
Jae Ribia Jumal Han-geul Hakgyo
Libya Weekend Hangul School
? 22 Kindergarten to high school [32]

See also[edit]