Record Unemployment Lowers Young People's Hopes of Job-for-Life

      September 18, 2018 12:50

      With youth unemployment at around 10 percent, the highest since the Asian financial crisis, young Koreans are no longer so fixated on landing jobs-for-life with a big conglomerate but are taking whatever they can get.

      For the longest time young Koreans would patiently prepare for job interviews and hope that the job market will improve, but now they are getting impatient and taking work on construction sites or in part-time employment.

      One 28-year-old graduate from the prestigious Korea University has been juggling part-time jobs since 2016 after being turned down by consecutive full-time employers.

      "Although I make less than what I could in a full-time job, I can enjoy more free time and my situation is not that bad right now," he said.

      Youngsters in animal masks hand out flyers in Myeong-dong, Seoul in August last year.

      According to Statistics Korea, the number of people between 15 and 29 who work in manual jobs stood at 253,000 in May, accounting for 7.6 percent of all workers in that age group. That was the highest since 2009, just after the global financial crisis.

      According to the Construction Workers Mutual Aid Association, the number of construction workers under 30 rose from 69,848 in 2013 to 125,587 last year.

      Some are trying to use their personal networks to land internships or any kind of jobs, gathering with people from the same hometown or clan, which used to be seen as a pastime for the elderly.

      Koh Kang-sup at the Young Professionals Institute of Korea said, "During the Asian financial crisis and the global financial crisis, young Koreans expected the job market to improve after a while. But nowadays they are trying to adjust to reality by applying new standards as dwindling job prospects are becoming a norm and life values are changing."

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