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South Korean community profile

Information about the South Korean community in Victoria including where they live and when they arrived, languages spoken, English language proficiency, religions and significant dates.

These profiles are of Victorian communities, using the best available data we have from the 2021 Australian Census.

The Census defines ancestry as the cultural or ethnic group you most identify with.

We acknowledge that the profiles are not definitive. There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


In 1945, Korea was divided into the North (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and the South (Republic of South Korea). The Korean population in Australia was quite low until the late 1960s because of the White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901).

At the end of the Vietnam War (1975), many Koreans working for military contract firms moved to Australia. Some were granted permanent residency status and an increase in sponsored migration.

Between 1986 and 1991, there was an increase in Koreans arriving in Australia, with many arriving as skilled migrants and business people. The increase continued during the 1990s and early 2000s and was driven by South Koreans seeking economic and educational opportunities in Australia and through the family reunion program.

Victoria became a key destination in this period for South Koreans seeking higher education or sending their children for English language studies and university.

The 2021 Census data show that most of the South Korean community arrived in Victoria from 2001–2010 and migration continues to remain steady. As a result, a well–established Korean community has developed in Victoria, especially in Melbourne. This includes Korean churches, businesses, cultural groups, and other community organisations.

South Korean community

The South Korean community is one of the largest in Australia. There are 20,515 people in Victoria who have South Korean ancestry, of which 15,429 were born in South Korea.

The gender breakdown for the South Korean community is:

  • male: 9,264 (45.2%)
  • female: 11,251 (54.8%).

Most of the South Korean community is young to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts aged from 35–44 (22.9%) and 0–14 (22.3%). 

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data when communicating and engaging with the South Korean community:

  • The South Korean community is a growing one with many people arriving between 2001 and 2010.
  • The community has high levels of English language proficiency and may therefore understand information or resources in English. It is worth noting there are many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support, particularly more recent arrivals and older people.
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Social media, digital, radio and print can help reach the many middle–aged and young South Koreans living in Victoria.
  • For placed–based activities, the central, south–eastern and eastern suburbs are where most of the community live.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
PDF 3.35 MB
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Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
Word 2.33 MB
(opens in a new window)


Many people in the South Korean community live in Melbourne’s central, south–eastern and eastern suburbs.

The City of Melbourne is home to one of the largest South Korean communities in Victoria with 2,706 people. The City of Monash is next with 2,509 people.

The following 10 local government areas have the largest South Korean communities.

Local government areaPopulation
Glen Eira898
Greater Dandenong700

South Korea-born population

The statistics below focus on people living in Victoria who were born in South Korea. This will be referred to as the ‘South Korea–born population’.


The top languages spoken by the South Korea–born community in Victoria are:

  • Korean (13,004)
  • English (1,974).

English language proficiency

The South Korea–born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 68.3% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 18.6% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 12.8% of the population speak English only.


The South Korea–born population identify with the following religions:

  • Catholicism (15.6%)
  • Presbyterian and Reformed (10.6%)
  • Christianity – Uniting Church (8.8%)
  • Christianity – Baptist (5.0%)
  • no religion (46.2%).

Years of arrival

There are two significant points of arrival for the South Korea-born population: 2001–2010 and 2011–2015. Most of the Korean people in Victoria arrived between 2001 and 2015.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage


In South Korean culture, names traditionally follow this order: [Family Name] [Given name]. Each Korean name usually consists of three syllables. The first is the family name while the second and third are the given name. The surname is inherited from the father’s side of the family, always comes before the given name, and is usually a single syllable or character.

To demonstrate respect, honorific titles like ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ are commonly employed. It is considered inappropriate to address friends and acquaintances who are the same age or younger than oneself using their first name alone.

In international or English–speaking environments, many South Koreans adopt a ‘Westernised’ version of their original name by putting their given name first and surname last. For instance, KIM Min Su may be called Min Su KIM.

Significant dates

The Western calendar is widely used in Korea, but specific holidays are still celebrated based on the lunar calendar.

The following are some key dates of significance:

  • New Year’s Day (Sinjeong) – 1 January
  • Korean New Year (Seollal) – varies each year
  • South Korea Independence Movement Day (Samiljeol) – 1 March
  • Buddha Day– varies each year
  • Mid–Autumn Festival (Chuseok) – varies each year
  • National Liberation Day of Korea – 15 August
  • Christmas – 25 December.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre).