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U.S. Koreans Go Home in Search of Better Life

Korea Daily, News Report, Sang-Woo Park, Translated by Eunji Jang Posted: Dec 10, 2009

LOS ANGELES Kim, 38, moved to Los Angeles four years ago with his wife and two children. At first things were good. His income wasnt bad, and he thought he was on his way to achieving the American dream. But after the economic downturn, his life took a sudden turn for the worse. He couldnt afford to pay rent. He was forced to work two jobs, and still had a hard time making ends meet. And he had no family in Los Angeles to ask for help.

Kim, who was in the United States on an F-1 visa, decided to return to Korea with his family.

He is one of a growing number of Koreans - both U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents -- who are moving back to Korea.

With few signs that the U.S. financial crisis is letting up any time soon, many Koreans are choosing to move home, believing that life in Korea will be better than life in the United States. Financial difficulties have caused both physical and psychological exhaustion for many Korean immigrants, making them homesick for their families and life back home.

The Korean Consulates call center for Korean Americans and tourists reports that migration to Korea ranks among their top five most frequently asked questions.

I quit my job because it was difficult but its not easy to find a new job. Thats how I decided to go back to Korea, said Lee, a U.S. citizen who is leaving for Korea next month. Im looking forward to finding a job where I can use my English skills to earn money and also to have new experiences.

As a result, Korean-owned shipping companies are seeing business pick up as more families send packages to Korea.

December and January, along with the summer months, tend to be the busiest time of the year to send packages, as students and workers go to Korea or come back to the United States. But this year, the number of people sending packages to Korea has increased.

Moon-Sup Lee of the Korea Express shipping agency says more packages are being sent as more Koreans return home. Life here is tough and people hear from their friends or relatives from Korea that the economic situation in Korea has improved. They are looking forward to searching for new hope in Korea again.

There are a lot of cases in which Koreans move back because they lost their jobs because of the economic crisis or cant change their visa status, said Sung-Jin Yoo of Hyun-Dai Shipping.

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