Shanghai is rapidly losing its previously significant Korean population as Korean businesses withdraw from China due to the Korean economic crisis and the falling value of the won. The Korean consulate estimates that more than 10,000 Koreans have left Shanghai since the beginning of 2008, according to Danwei‘s translation of an article that appeared in CBNweekly. In Beijing, the numbers are closer to 20,000.
This huge exodus from Shanghai and Beijing means that the Koreatowns that developed around Korean expat communities are being hit hard as well. The CBNweekly article described a number of small business owners whose patrons were mostly Koreans and who are now being forced to close up shop. Traditionally Korean neighborhoods – like Gubei in Shanghai – are facing plunging housing prices since expats can no longer afford the luxury apartments that fill the area. In the Jinxiu Jiangnan neighborhood, which originally had about 1,000 Korean households, over 10% have moved away and housing prices have fallen from 19,000 to 15,000 rmb per square meter.
Although the Korean won has been slowly climbing in value in the past couple of weeks, it hasn’t reversed the massive depreciation that started in February.
We’re hoping this won’t mean the end of great kimchi and Korean BBQs for Shanghai, but if anything, the amazing exchange rate means it’s a great time for Shanghai residents to go to Korea. The plane ride to Seoul’s only about an hour long and is currently selling for some ridiculously low prices.
Got Korean friends you want to keep in China? Maybe it’s time to go visit their country on a shopping spree.
Photo by Nagyman.