The first wave of Nepalese immigration began in the late 1980s. After Nepal restored its democracy in the 1990s, labour laws were changed to allow Nepalese youths to go abroad in search of work. The Nepalese community in South Korea thus consists primarily of migrant workers, but also has large numbers of students as well as Nepalese women married to South Korean men they met through international matchmaking agencies. The Nepali government are attempting to induce Nepali workers staying illegally in South Korea (roughly 2,500 as of 2010[update]) to return home, in hopes that the South Korean government will increase its intake of Nepali workers in future years.
The Non-Resident Nepali Association of Korea is one organisation for Nepalese people living in South Korea. In 2010, they opened a shelter in Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul to provide charitable assistance for Nepalese who become unemployed or otherwise face difficulties. Another organisation, aimed specifically at international students, is the Society of Nepalese Students in Korea (SONSIK), established in 2004. South Korea's multilingual Migrant Workers' Television was founded by Nepali migrant worker Minod Moktan (Minu), a human rights activist who stayed in South Korea as an illegal alien for nearly 18 years before his deportation in October 2009.