* This post is written by Kiho Park, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers 2013.
While growing up in Ontario, Canada since 1998, I was fascinated by the sheer number of ethnic Koreans in my neighborhood, from the tranquil life in the small town of Richmond Hill to the vibrant city life of Toronto. As time passed, Korean communities all across the province rapidly grew.
It wasn’t until ninth grade that from my history teacher, I learnt of the half century old story of Korean migration into Canada. Presently, the Republic of Korea and Canada enjoys a strong bilateral relationship ranging from economic trade to cultural exchange.
As a result of mutual trust and friendship between both nation-states, the International Experience Canada program was born, specifically catered for young and eager South Korean nationals interested in experiencing the Western world. The program currently attracts thousands of young Koreans per year from ages 18- 30. In addition, those who are interested in undergoing studies in Canada are eligible to apply for a study visa to attend approved academic institutions.
Individuals who hold these visas travel all across Canada, especially regions where the ethnic Korean community are more prevalent than others. For example, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada is located in Ottawa, the capital city. In order to provide services and maintain relationships with prominent Korean communities, Consulate Generals are located in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
It is a widely known concept that Consulate Generals are located in regions with prominent population of its nationals. Hence, the Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Korea is located in Seoul, the capital city, and a Honorary Consulate General of Canada to the Republic of Korea in Pusan. Over the years, Korean migration and tourism have been drastically increasing in the Prairies, Eastern and Northern Canada.
Today, Canada has become a widely popular destination for Korean nationals to study, work, and visit. As a result, it is expected that International Experience Canada will continue to grow and attract those who are interested in learning about Canada’s customs, history, and traditions. As of February 14, 2013, the Quota for the 1st tranche of applicants for 2 000 Korean nationals of the International Experience Canada – Working Holiday Program has been filled.