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Koreans in Malaysia

Koreans in Malaysia
Total population
14,580 (2009)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Kuala Lumpur [2]
 Selangor [2]
 Sabah [3]
Korean, English, Chinese, Malay[4]
Mahayana Buddhism,[5]and Christianity[6]
Related ethnic groups

Koreans in Malaysia numbered 14,580 individuals as of 2009, nearly triple the total of 5,920 individuals in 2005, according to South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This made them the 20th-largest community of overseas Koreans, and the 5th-largest in Southeast Asia.[1][7]


  • Migration history 1
  • Demography and distribution 2
  • Education 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Migration history

The history of Koreans in Malaysia goes back almost half a century; Malaysia and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1960, and in the following decade, when Malaysia faced a shortage of doctors, a number of foreign doctors, including Koreans and Filipinos, were authorised to practise in Malaysia.[8][9] Some construction workers, pilots, and sailors were also sent to the country.[10]

Demography and distribution

The Korean community in Malaysia consist mostly of expatriates working in South Korean companies, as well as an increasing number of international students.[11] The number of retirees coming under the Malaysia My Second Home immigration programme has also been increasing.[2] Most Korean residents are concentrated in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, especially in Ampang, where a Koreatown is beginning to sprout.[12] The popularity of Korean dramas in Malaysia has meant an increasingly friendly reception for Korean expatriates by local people.[11] Real estate investment is another factor drawing Koreans to migrate to Malaysia, due to the taxes imposed on people who own more than two properties in Korea; Malaysia is the second most popular market for overseas real estate investment by Koreans, after the United States.[2]

Around 200,000 South Korean tourists came to Malaysia in 2006; Kota Kinabalu was their most popular destination.[9] About 1,800 to 2,000 Koreans reside in Sabah, most of them in Kota Kinabalu.[3] Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal project in Kimanis, Papar has brought South Korean employees of Samsung Engineering to work and live there until the terminal completion in December 2013.[13]


Roughly 2,000 of the Koreans in Malaysia are students; Malaysia's multicultural environment offers them the chance to practise English as well as study other languages such as Chinese or Malay; they describe the educational environment as being more relaxed than in Korea. Korean churches form an important part of their social life.[4][6] Their parents also prefer Malaysia to other countries for several reasons. The low cost of living and education in Malaysia is a major pull factor; Parents also believe Malaysia offers a better environment for English study than neighbouring countries, as prevalence of Islam in Malaysia means that the nightlife is less of a distraction. A representative from one Seoul company which helps to arrange overseas study for local students estimated that 90% of Korean students going to Southeast Asia choose Malaysia as their destination. However, some international schools have stopped accepting Korean students because they have become too large a proportion of their student bodies.[11] In many cases, mothers come to Malaysia with their young school-age children, while the breadwinning father remains behind in South Korea and sends money to support them.[14]

Malaysia's first officially-registered school for Korean nationals, the Malaysia Korean School, was established on 7 December 1974; it had 26 teachers and enrolled 148 students as of 2006. It is located on Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b 재외동포현황/Current Status of Overseas Compatriots, South Korea: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2009, retrieved 21 May 2009 
  2. ^ a b c d Phoon, Zoe (26 November 2007), "'Hwan Young Hap Ni Da'", New Straits Times, retrieved 1 January 2008 
  3. ^ a b "Brisk business at Korea Fair", New Sabah Times, 28 September 2009, retrieved 21 December 2009 
  4. ^ a b "Great chance to mix", The Star, 16 July 2006, retrieved 2 May 2007 
  5. ^ "Korean Buddhist congregations in Malaysia", World Buddhist Directory (Buddha Dharma Education Association), 2006, retrieved 9 March 2009 
  6. ^ a b Tan, Ee Loo (16 July 2006). "Feeling at home in Malaysia". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  7. ^ "재외동포 다수거주 국가", 재외동포현황 (Overseas Korean Foundation), 2007, retrieved 10 October 2008 
  8. ^ Henderson, John William (1970), Area Handbook for Malaysia, American University, p. 151,  
  9. ^ a b Ariffin, Roslan (8 March 2007). "Najib Dijangka Kukuhkan Hubungan Dua Hala M'sia-Korea Selatan (Najib plans strong Malaysia-South Korea bilateral relations)". Bernama. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  10. ^ Bonacich, Edna; Light, Ivan (1991), Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Koreans in Los Angeles, 1965-1982, United States: University of California Press, p. 104,  
  11. ^ a b c Kim, Hyun (31 January 2007). "Malaysia emerging as destination for Korean students seeking global education". Yonhap News. Archived from the original on 31 March 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  12. ^ Rhee, Hyun Ah (18 December 2006). "Koreans find green pastures in Ampang". Malaysiakini. Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007. 
  13. ^ Samsung Engineering officially signs the Sabah Oil & Gas Terminal Project, Samsung Engineering, 18 October 2010, retrieved 12 June 2012 
  14. ^ Lim, Yun-suk (17 February 2009), "Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Weakening Korean won forces South Koreans to give up overseas plans", Channel News Asia, retrieved 29 April 2009 
  15. ^ "Overseas Korean Educational Institutions". International Institute for Education Development, Republic of Korea. 2006. Archived from the original on 8 January 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 

Further reading

  • Na, Eun-young (2007), "국어교육: 재 말레이시아 한국 학생들의 국어 학습 인식 조사 - 말레이시아 한국인 학교(토요 학교)를 중심으로/Korean-language education: A study on the Korean language learning awareness of Korean students in Malaysia - case study of the Saturday school of the Malaysia Korean School", 새국어교육/Modern education of Korean language 75: 145–162,  

External links

  • Malaysia Korean School
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