Big Problems Plague Korea's Employment Market

  • By Kim Shin-young

    November 16, 2018 09:53

    Korea's job market is plagued by a growing income gap, high youth unemployment, gender inequality and a high proportion of small store owners, according to a report by the Bank of Korea out last week.

    The report said the labor market is sharply divided between permanent employees in big businesses, who earn hefty salaries but account for only 11 percent of all workers, and temporary workers or those employed permanently in small and mid-sized companies, who earn far less.

    Jobseekers wait for an interview at a company in Seoul, in this undated file photo.

    The average monthly salary of full-time workers in big businesses is W3.98 million, a whopping 1.8 times higher than what the rest make (US$1=W1,120). Their average years of service are 2.3 times longer at 12.2 years.

    The proportion of temporary jobs being made permanent ones is only 22 percent, the lowest among OECD nations, while 25.5 percent of workers run their own small businesses, which places Korea just above Greece, Turkey, Mexico and Chile in the OECD.

    Rising youth unemployment is another concern. The youth unemployment rate in Korea last year was 2.7 times higher than the overall jobless rate and 1.7 times higher than the OECD average

    The time it takes for young Koreans to find jobs after graduating from school increased from 12.3 months to 14.4 months as well.

    And the employment rate among female university graduates is 26 percentage points lower than among their male counterparts.

    Jang Keun-jo at the BOK said, "We need to improve job training programs to improve the quality of jobs available for young people and try to ensure that married women can balance work and life." 

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