According to data compiled by the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, the number of residents from outside the country came to 1.57 million as of Jan. 1, up 8.6 percent from a year ago and taking up 3.1 percent of the nation’s population of 51 million.
It marks the eighth consecutive year that the figure has risen on-year. The government started compiling related data in 2006.
Foreign residents refer to people staying in South Korea for longer than 90 days, naturalized South Korean citizens, marriage migrants and their children.
The ministry attributed this year’s growth to eased requirements for an Overseas Korean (F-4) visa and an increase in applications for permanent residency among ethnic Koreans with non-South Korean citizenship.
Of the foreign residents, nearly 539,000, or 34.4 percent of the total, are workers from abroad with no South Korean nationality.