A Trip To Europe

The Korean Diaspora: German Koreans

History is what it is.  I don’t dwell on the past. I do examine, and learn from it to the best of my abilities.

If you haven’t noticed by the picture, I’m going to talk about the Korean dispersion into Germany.

As an interesting fact, though, most people think Australia is all about Crocodile Dundy, Steve Irwin, kangaroos, and the outback.  Well, don’t forget, there are a lot of Germans in Australia, A LOT.  I’ve seen so many Germans in Australia that I actually can recognize the REAL English German accent.  The American movies have got it all wrong.

In any respect, off to Deutschland! (Germany in German). ✈ ✈ ✈

By fdecomite (German flag Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The population of the Korean community in Germany ? Over 30,000 as confirmed by the Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as of 2009.  So I can only guess there are more now.

How did it get this way?

When I first knew that there were Koreans in Germany, at first I thought, what the hell are they doing there ? But then I got interested.

When I get curious enough, I find the answers.  Thus, here is the short and sweet version of how we ended up in Europe.

After the reputation they created from WWII, Germany wasn’t looking so hot to the world.  The country was very much divided due to their their ideologies, similar to North and South Korea.  Because of Germany’s similar situation where their country was divided, West Germany wanted to offer support, and setup a system which invited miners and nurses from South Korea.

So the girls got dolled up and went to Germany!

korean nurses1
Korean nurses arriving at the airport Cologne/Bonn 1966; © Union of Miners and Nurses dispatched to Germany

These guys that came were called Gastarbeiter, meaning guest worker. 

Though the Gastarbeiters were only allowed to stay for a specific amount of time in West Germany, anyone who’s spent a few years in another country and found their second home, half of them didn’t want to leave.

I mean, who’d want to go back, they look so happy!

© Union of Miners and Nurses dispatched to Germany
© Union of Miners and Nurses dispatched to Germany

So was the case with the South Koreans; they protested and fought to stay in Germany, and the government agreed.


What wasn’t so peachy?

The North Koreans. they wanted to become an influential figure in the Korean community in West Germany. Because of this, North Korea sent spies to recruit people within the Korean community.  However, the South Koreans didn’t want to take this crap, so they took measures into their own hands.

Suspected people who were becoming influenced by the North Koreans were tortured and six people were sentenced to death, without the consent of the West German government.

This infuriated the German government and didn’t take this lightly; they almost cut off all ties with South Korea.


Luckily, due to other worldly incidents affecting South Korea, this diplomatic cutoff was dismissed by West Germany.  Thank you!

Now, some retirees have come back to South Korea in order to live their golden years in their motherland.

There is even a village dedicated to these people which is like a German village in South Gyeongsang in the Namhae County (in red).


It’s a beautiful place, from what I can see.  And the area is definitely a German village but better because all the buildings are new. You can watch a clip of the documentary Endstation der Sehnsüchte (Home from Home) if you want to learn more about the Korean women who brought their German husbands back to Korea after 30 years of absence.  Enjoyed the clip? Here’s a synopsis of the movie.

german village

One German professor said that 90% were German here.

2089356086_0c1DMjnF_a05Go to 독일마을 – German Village

As I’ve felt the need to come to Korea sometimes even though I’m immersed in the American culture, the Koreans who’ve lived in Germany for over 20, 30 years felt the same say.  Which is why this village was built.

I’m glad they’ve found a place halfway between Germany and Korea 🙂 It’s been over 50 years, and there’s definitely a strong tie between the two countries which can be seen here and don’t forget about the German-Korean Society.

Consequently, there are still people who have made Germany their home, and now reside usually in Metropolitan areas, Berlin having one of the largest Korean communities to date.  There are online newspapers that are dedicated to the Korean community in German here and another in Korean here.

It’d be such a pleasure to meet some of these people and or their kids to see what life is like as a German Korean, through a Kyopo’s eyes.

If you’re interested, shoot me an email on thekoreandiaspora@gmail.com and I’ll get in contact with you.

Your Kyopo friend,


Danke~ and thanks for reading.




  1. I passed by this German village when I went to Namhae!! I didn’t know that this history was tied into the village there. Interesting!


    • Oh you’re so lucky Steph ^^ I learned about it after I left Korea, but I will check it out when I go back this year !

      What was your view and personal thoughts of the village ? I’d love to hear a real person’s opinion ^^



      • I didn’t actually stop in the German village. I just passed by. I did notice the houses, which looked more American to me. They certainly looked nothing like the other homes on the island! Had I known about the historical significance (and had more time) I definitely would have walked through it.

        As for Namhae, it’s a super small county. A definite time warp moving from Seoul station to the bus station there! Because we only had one day we went to 남해금산, a gorgeous mountain with a temple at the top. It was incredible. Like most hikes, I was greeted by many lovely people and actually shared makkoli with about 10 ajumas (I think they were a hiking group).

        If you’re planning to go to Namhae I’d say be aware that there is little to no transportation. On our way to the mountain the bus dropped us off something like 10kms from our destination. If you are fluent in Korean you might not find yourself in this situation, but my friend and I had trouble conversing with the elders in the town (who spoke no English). We started walking, thinking it wouldn’t be that far and on our way two people in a car asked if we wanted a ride. So we took it. They were from Seoul too and they definitely saved us! It would have taken us way too long to get there.

        As a token of our appreciation we bought them some great traditional food. I wish I could remember the food but it was mostly fish and super delicious.

        I regret not going to the German village but if I ever go again I will make it a point to check it out. The tea fields in Daraengi Village are awesome, too! But when I was there it was all green, no colour, so perhaps I’ll go again someday!


      • Thanks for that Steph, I’ll definitely have to make sure I can get there efficiently but knowing me, I’ll set it up and then still end up walking anyway lol

        Wow, I bet that day was fun, you met some adjummas, got a little makkoli ;), met some nice people, overall sounds like a memorable day if you ask me !

        I’ll definitely make note of the mountain as well.

        In any regards, thanks again for reading and have a great day ~

        Your Kyopo Friend,



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