SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – Many Chinese investors have gathered to invest more than 20 billion won, or about US$18 million, in South Korea’s immigrant investor program, which launched last year. As of the end of November, the entire amount of investment stood at 20.47 billion won, a rapid increase from 1.30 billion won at the end of last year, according to the Ministry of Justice.
In the program, foreigners who invest 300 to 500 million won in South Korea will receive a resident’s visa (F-2) that allows them to freely participate in economic activities. Those who make an investment and retain it for five years will obtain the right of permanent residence (F-5 visa). The investment pool is set to be used for small companies selected by the Korea Finance Corporation. The state’s agency lends enterprises 500 million won on average, at a low interest rate of 3.87 percent. To date, a total of 40 companies have benefited from the program.
A total of 45 foreigners have invested their money, including 39 Chinese, with the remainder coming from the United States, Hong Kong, Syria, Iran, Japan and Russia. As investors are returned the principal while also obtaining the right to permanent residency in South Korea after five years, many Chinese citizens have been eager to participate in the program.
“We have tried our best to attract foreign investors by establishing an immigrant investor counseling center at Incheon International airport, and designating banks for their convenience. We are expecting that the investment will increase even more,” an official in the ministry said.
While the principal guarantee program has gained popularity, none of the investors have been willing to risk their capital by investing in Korean rural areas such as Yeongju, Yecheon and Taean. Some critics, therefore, insist that the government should devise better plans to allow rural areas to benefit from foreign investment.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)