Private exchanges between South Korea and Japan are still brisk despite the escalating conflict between the governments of the two neighboring countries.
Statistics Korea announced on Jan. 28 that a total of 2,921,360 Japanese people, excluding flight attendants, visited South Korea last year with a year-on-year growth of 28.1 percent, the highest rate of increase in nine years.
Earlier, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced that 7,539,000 South Koreans visited Japan in 2018, up 5.6 percent from a year ago. The number is the highest since records began in 2003, although the rate of increase is relatively lower than those posted from 2015 to 2017, when the number increased by more than one million for three years in a row.
The number of South Korean students in Japan and that of Japanese students in South Korea are on the increase, too. Specifically, 738 Japanese were permitted to stay in South Korea as foreign students in the first half of 2018, up 17 percent from a year earlier. The number of South Koreans entering Japan as students, which had been 1,010 in 2013 and 991 in 2015, rose to 1,104 in 2017 and is estimated to have exceeded the 2017 level in 2018.
An increasing number of South Koreans are getting jobs in Japan as well. Japan had 1,460,463 foreign employees as of October last year and South Koreans accounted for 4.3 percent of the total.
Although private exchanges between the two countries expanded last year, they may be affected by their current military tension. For reference, the number of Japanese tourists in South Korea showed an annual decline of 20 percent or so from 2013 to 2015, when anti-Korea sentiments spread in Japan.