During the Japanese occupation (1910–45), some three million Koreans emigrated to Manchuria and other parts of China, 700,000 to Siberia, approximately three million to Japan, and about 7,000 to the US (mostly to Hawaii). The great majority of those who went to Japan were from the populous southern provinces, and large numbers (1.5–2 million) of them returned home following the end of hostilities in 1945. In addition, from 1945 through 1949, at least 1.2 million Koreans crossed the 38th parallel into the ROK, refugees from Communism or from the Korean War. Under the Emigration Law of 1962, the ROK government encouraged emigration to South America (especially Brazil), the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the Middle East, and elsewhere. Most of the emigrants are workers who remit earnings back home. A total of 409,922 Koreans emigrated during the 1962–80 period; emigration peaked at 48,270 in 1976 but had declined to 27,163 in 1990. In addition, Koreans have emigrated permanently to the US in large numbers since 1971; the population in the US of Korean origin was 798,849 as of 1990 (72.7% foreign-born). In all, more than two million South Koreans were living abroad in 1988. Migration within South Korea, mainly from the rural areas to the cities, remains substantial, despite government efforts to improve village living conditions.
As of March 1997, the 1,400 boat people that were granted temporary refugee status were resettled to third countries. In 1999, the net migration rate was -0.3 per 1,000 population.