Koreans in Hong Kong

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Koreans in Hong Kong
Hyelim 2012.jpg
Total population
13,288 (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Sai Wan Ho, Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan
Korean, English, Cantonese
Buddhism,[1] Roman Catholicism[2]
Related ethnic groups
Korean diaspora

Koreans in Hong Kong formed a population of 13,288 individuals as of 2011, a mid-range size compared to Korean diaspora populations in other cities in China and Southeast Asia.[3]

Migration history[edit]

Some Koreans came to Hong Kong with the Imperial Japanese Army during the Japanese occupation; after the Japanese surrender, US Army records show that the British government repatriated 287 Korean soldiers to Korea.[4] Some Koreans from China came to Hong Kong to settle soon after the war as well.[5]


Based on 2011 data from the Hong Kong Immigration Department, the Consulate General of South Korea in Hong Kong reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that there were 13,288 South Korean nationals in Hong Kong. Unlike in Mainland China, their population features a larger number of women than men: 7,613 women (57%) vs. 5,675 men (43%), a sex ratio of 1.34 to 1. 4,005 (30%) have the right of abode in Hong Kong, while the remaining 9,483 (70%) hold other types of visas.[3] South Koreans in Hong Kong belong mostly to the upper-middle class of Hong Kong society.[5] According to census statistics, they are wealthier than the average Hong Kong resident; 42.6% of all South Koreans employed in Hong Kong as of 2006 had a monthly salary of HK$30,000 or greater, as compared to just 10.8% of the whole population.[6] However, despite their higher wages, South Koreans complain that they face far higher living costs in Hong Kong, including medical fees 20–30% higher than those in South Korea.[7]

Virtually all Koreans in Hong Kong are South Korean; however, a few North Korean businesses and diplomats are known to operate in the territory as well.[8] In addition, a minority of North Korean refugees attempt to sneak across the border into the territory to obtain political asylum and transport to South Korea; the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants claims that the Hong Kong Police were instructed to keep no record of their arrest or registration.[9]


Approximately 23.1% of Koreans in Hong Kong work in the finance, insurance, real estate, or business services field; one of the highest proportions out of all ethnic minorities.[6][10] Among those 23.1% are an estimated 300 who work in the Hong Kong offices of major investment banks; most studied at universities in the United States before returning to Asia to take their present positions.[11] One of the more notable examples is Chi-Won Yoon, who was appointed country head and CEO of UBS AG's Hong Kong branch in March 2008 after two decades of industry experience.[12] The South Korean consulate's report to MOFAT stated that the number of South Koreans in the financial industry was negatively affected by the financial crisis beginning in 2008, but numbers employed in other sectors have actually increased since that time.[3]

Tsim Sha Tsui's Kimberley Street, a side street off of Kimberley Road, also boasts a small concentration of Korean restaurants and grocery stores owned by long-term Korean residents of Hong Kong, and has been dubbed Hong Kong's "Little Korea" as a result.[13]


Hong Kong lacks a Korean-medium kindergarten, and so parents often send their children to English-medium kindergartens instead; some continue on to English-medium primary and secondary schools, such as those run by the English Schools Foundation, and as a result speak English better than Korean.[14] Koreans in Hong Kong have also set up Korean-language educational institutions for their children. The Korean Saturday School (한국토요학원) was established in 1960 by the Association of Korean Residents.[5] The territory's one Korean school, the Korean International School, is located in Sai Wan Ho. Founded in 1994, it enrolled 402 students as of 2006. However, they suffered a loss of community confidence due to a bribery scandal which triggered an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.[15][16]

The number of South Korean students in Hong Kong universities has shown significant growth.[3] In 2008, there were only about 40 South Koreans enrolled in Hong Kong universities, primarily the English-medium University of Hong Kong; they formed just 1% of the 4,000 or so tertiary-level international students in the territory at the time.[17] However, along with China's economic rise, South Korean international students are becoming increasingly interested in studying in the country, and Hong Kong universities have taken advantage of this trend to promote the internationalisation of their student bodies. By 2011, there were 595 South Koreans in Hong Kong on student visas, an increase of 644% since MOFAT's 2009 survey.[3] Additionally, an increasing number of South Korean children raised in expatriate families in Hong Kong, who have acquired permanent residence, are choosing to remain in Hong Kong for their university education rather than pursue higher education in South Korea or overseas.

Among respondents to the 2011 Census who self-identified as Korean, 19.1% stated that they spoke English as their usual language, 6.8% Cantonese, 2.2% Japanese, 1.3% Mandarin, and 70.6% some other language (e.g. Korean). With regards to additional spoken languages other than their usual language, 71.5% stated that they spoke English, 14.6% Cantonese, 24.0% Mandarin, and 9.7% Japanese. (Multiple responses were permitted to the latter question, hence the responses are non-exclusive and the sum is greater than 100%.) 9.4% did not speak English either as their usual language nor an additional language, while the respective figures for Cantonese and Mandarin were 78.5% and 74.7%.[18]


There are about 260 Korean Catholic families in Hong Kong; a parish chapel devoted to them was consecrated in mid-2005.[2] A directory published by the Wednesday Journal lists two Korean Buddhist congregations and fourteen Korean Christian churches.[19]

Notable people[edit]

This is a list of Korean expatriates in Hong Kong and Hong Kong people of Korean descent

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Korean Buddhist organisations in Hong Kong", World Buddhist Directory, Buddha Dharma Education Association, 2006, retrieved 9 March 2009 
  2. ^ a b "Bishop John Tong, Auxiliary of Hong Kong, presides opening of new parish for Korean Catholic immigrants", Agenzia Fides, 13 June 2005, retrieved 28 April 2009 
  3. ^ a b c d e 《재외동포 본문(지역별 상세)》, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 15 July 2011, p. 59, retrieved 25 February 2012 
  4. ^ "Chapter 6", Reports of General MacArthur: MacArthur in Japan: The Occupation: Military Phase, Volume I Supplement, United States Army Center of Military History, 1994 [1950] ; see note 39
  5. ^ a b c Kim, Hyewon Kang (2010), "Korean Language and Korean Studies in Hong Kong (1998–2009)", Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 7 (1): 141–153 
  6. ^ a b "Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities" (PDF), Publications and Products of the 2006 Population By-census, Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong (xvi), 28 December 2007, retrieved 23 January 2008 
  7. ^ "동포 대상 특화 서비스/Specialised services for overseas compatriots", YTN News, 21 February 2007, retrieved 28 November 2008 
  8. ^ "Pyongyang's Banking Beachhead in Europe", Far Eastern Economic Review, 13 February 2003, retrieved 25 December 2006 
  9. ^ Country Reports: China (PDF), United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 1998 
  10. ^ "Thematic Report – Ethnic Minorities" (PDF), 2001 Population Census, Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department, 17 December 2001, retrieved 21 December 2006 
  11. ^ "홍콩 금융계 한국인 진출 활발/Koreans advancing into Hong Kong finance industry", YTN News, 3 May 2008, retrieved 28 November 2008 
  12. ^ Song, Oe-dal (2 March 2008), "홍콩 금융가에 떠오른 한국계 CEO/The Korean CEO rising on Hong Kong's Finance Street", Chosun Ilbo, retrieved 28 November 2008 
  13. ^ Lau, Joyce (12 January 2001), "Diverse-City: Little Korea", HK Magazine, archived from the original on 10 April 2009, retrieved 30 September 2008 
  14. ^ Lee, Hye-kyung (1996), The bilingual development in Hong Kong of Korean children aged 4 to 6, University of Hong Kong, retrieved 30 September 2008 
  15. ^ "홍콩한국국제학교/Korean International School of Hong Kong", Overseas Korean Educational Institutions, National Institute for International Education Development, Republic of Korea, 2005, retrieved 27 August 2007 
  16. ^ "홍콩 한인학교 간부 비리로 수감, 교민사회 '술렁'/Hong Kong Korean school board investigated, Korean residents 'shaken'", AnyChina News, 22 June 2006, retrieved 27 August 2007 
  17. ^ "홍콩, 한국 유학생 유치 노력/In Hong Kong, Korean international students continuing to work hard", YTN News, 6 July 2006, retrieved 28 November 2008 
  18. ^ "Table 4.5: Proportion of ethnic minorities aged 5 and over able to speak selected languages/dialects, 2011" (PDF). 2011 Census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities (PDF). Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. December 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  19. ^ "종교단체/Religious organisations", Wednesday Journal, retrieved 29 April 2009 
  20. ^ "醒目仔時間 崔建邦", Express Weekly, 6 December 2006, retrieved 21 April 2010 
  21. ^ "崔建邦否認襲擊罪保釋候審", Sing Tao Daily, 6 March 2010, retrieved 22 April 2010 
  22. ^ "wonder girls禹惠林微博晒香港求学时期旧照", China Radio International, 21 January 2012, retrieved 25 July 2012 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]