The number of foreign residents in Korea surpassed one million as of last Friday, the Ministry of Justice said. There are 1,000,254 foreigners in Korea including illegal residents, long term residents and those staying for less than 90 days, the ministry said.The 'One Million' figure was certainly bandied about in the media and used to justify calling Korea a 'multicultural society'.
As of the end of 2008, there were 1,158,866 foreigners in Korea, but only 854,007 were considered people staying over 90 days (compared to 40,519 in 1980 [link] 536,627 in 2006 and 722,686 at the end of May 2007 [link]). Since the number of even E-2 visa holders was lower under the resident statistics, it suggests that even those who are on long term visas but who haven't yet passed the 90 day mark are not considered residents as such (or at least that seems to be the logical conclusion - unless 'residency' is connected with receiving one's alien registration card). It seems likely that the number of 90 day+ residents may exceed one million this year.
Here's what I've been able to compile so far (KIS statistics prior to 2007 list only legal residents, and aren't included).
1990 100,000 [link]
1995 269,000 [link]
1997 386,972 [link]
2000.08 478,435 [link]
2000.10 500,591 [link]
2001.10 546,000 [link]
2007.08 1,000,254 [link]
2008.12 1,158,866 [link]
There's a bit of a gap between 2001 and 2007. Does anyone else have statistics for that time period?
A list of legal and illegal migrant workers over the years can be found here, for comparison.