The average annual salaries in the nation's top companies have reached the milestone level of W100 million (US$1=W1,036). Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom, Shinhan Financial Group and KDB Financial Group paid their workers more than W100 million last year, while Hyundai Motor and affiliates Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis offered little short of W100 million.
The Chosun Ilbo analyzed the annual business reports of 702 listed companies that close their books in December and found that the 95,000 workers at Samsung Electronics earned W102 million on average last year. This is the first time salaries there surpassed W100 million.
The latest figure marks an 18.6-percent rise compared to a year earlier when it stood at W86 million.
A Samsung Electronics spokesman attributed the rise to increased bonuses and incentives to mark the 20th anniversary of the company's so-called new management initiative. Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee proclaimed the initiative in 1993 calling for complete reform of Samsung and its staff to become a truly global brand.
The average annual salary of the 4,192 workers at top mobile provider SK Telecom stood at W105 million, also the first time it topped W100 million.
Shinhan and KDB, which employ 148 and 151 workers each, also achieved average salaries of more than W100 million despite tough conditions in the financial sector.
Hyundai and Kia, which employ 63,000 and 33,000 staff, offered average salaries of W94 million last year. The two automakers are leading the pack along with Samsung Electronics despite employing tens of thousands of workers. The average working period of staff is 16 years for Hyundai-Kia and 9.3 years for Samsung.
In contrast, chemical companies' average salaries remained unchanged or dropped last year due to oversupply in China.
Hyundai Heavy Industries saw its average salary drop last year from W75.5 million to W72.3 million, while top refiner SK Innovation's fell from W72.6 million to W67 million. No. 1 steelmaker POSCO remained unchanged at W79 million.
Hyundai Engineering and Construction also saw a decline from W68 million to W53.1 million and Samsung Engineering and Construction from W82 million to W81 million.
Staff at state-run companies earned much less as they went through restructuring.
Korea Gas' average salary fell from W78 million to W73 million, KEPCO's from W74 million to W69.6 million, and KEPCO Engineering and Construction's from W78 million to W76 million.