Gender Wage Gap In South Korea Slowly Closing



While there has been progress in reducing the gender wage gap in South Korea, there are still large differences, especially in the areas of childcare and career interruptions.

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The Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Ministry of Employment and Labour released the Women’s Economic Activity White Paper 2023 report. The average hourly wage for female employees was 18,113 won (US$14) and 25,886 won (US$20.08) for males in 2022. This represents a 70% wage gap. Although there has been a noticeable slow improvement—the difference is now down from 64.8% in 2012—the rate of advancement is still concerning.

The detailed image of the nation’s female workforce was presented in the report. On the one hand, women who are 15 years of age and older will have higher employment rates in 2022—52.9%. This represents an increase above 2012’s 48.6%. Furthermore, 12.1 million women are employed, which is another encouraging development.

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But there are still difficulties. The age group of 35–39 is where the gender employment difference is most noticeable, followed by 40–44 and 45–49. One important consideration is childcare; 42.7% of women’s job pauses are related to this obligation. Marriage-related interruptions have declined since 2014, but for many women in South Korea, childcare is becoming a bigger barrier to work advancement.

There are even more differences in the workforce among women. The hourly income of women in permanent positions was 19,549 won (US$15.17) last year, which is 1.3 times more than that of women in temporary roles.

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The South Korean Minister of Labour and Employment, Lee Jung-sik, stated that “the situation still falls short compared to advanced economies in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development,” recognising the need for additional development. According to The Korea Times, he underlined the government’s dedication to work-life policies that promote female participation in the economy and promote work-life balance.

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