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What is South Korea’s minimum wage?

What is South Korea’s Minimum Wage?


South Korea’s minimum wage has been a topic of discussion and debate for many years. As of 2021, it is set at 8,720 won per hour, or approximately $7.70 USD. In this article, we will explore the history of South Korea’s minimum wage, its current rate, and how it compares to other countries.

The History of South Korea’s Minimum Wage

South Korea first implemented a minimum wage in 1988, with a rate of 562 won per hour. Since then, the minimum wage has been adjusted annually based on economic conditions and inflation rates. In recent years, there have been calls for a significant increase in the minimum wage to address issues of income inequality and poverty.

The Current Minimum Wage Rate

As mentioned earlier, the current minimum wage rate in South Korea is 8,720 won per hour. This translates to roughly $7.70 USD per hour. The rate is set by the government’s Minimum Wage Commission, which consists of representatives from labor unions, employers’ associations, and the government.

How Does South Korea’s Minimum Wage Compare to Other Countries?

Compared to other developed countries, South Korea’s minimum wage is relatively low. For example, in Australia, the minimum wage is AUD 19.84 (approximately $15 USD) per hour, while in France it is €10.25 (approximately $12 USD) per hour. However, compared to other Asian countries such as China and Vietnam, South Korea’s minimum wage is higher.

Minimum Wage and the Cost of Living

While $7.70 USD per hour may seem low to some, it is important to consider the cost of living in South Korea when evaluating the minimum wage. In general, the cost of living in South Korea is lower than in many Western countries. Housing, transportation, and food are all relatively affordable.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Minimum Wage

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy, including South Korea’s. In response to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the government froze the minimum wage rate for 2021, keeping it at the same level as 2020.

The Debate Over Minimum Wage Increases

As mentioned earlier, there have been calls for a significant increase in South Korea’s minimum wage to address income inequality and poverty. However, some argue that increasing the minimum wage could lead to job losses and hurt small businesses. The debate over minimum wage increases is ongoing in South Korea.

The Effect of Minimum Wage on Employment

One of the arguments against minimum wage increases is that they could lead to job losses as employers cut back on hiring or reduce hours for existing employees. However, studies have shown that the impact of minimum wage increases on employment is not always negative and can vary depending on factors such as industry and location.

The Relationship Between Minimum Wage and Poverty

One of the main arguments in favor of increasing the minimum wage is that it can help reduce poverty. In South Korea, despite being a developed country, there are still high levels of poverty and income inequality. Increasing the minimum wage could help address these issues.

The Role of Unions in Minimum Wage Negotiations

Labor unions play an important role in advocating for higher wages and better working conditions for workers in South Korea. They are often involved in negotiations with employers and the government over minimum wage rates and other labor issues.

The Future of South Korea’s Minimum Wage

The future of South Korea’s minimum wage is uncertain. While there are calls for a significant increase, there are also concerns about the impact on employment and small businesses. The government will need to carefully consider these factors when setting future minimum wage rates.


In conclusion, South Korea’s minimum wage is set at 8,720 won per hour as of 2021. While this rate is lower than in many developed countries, it must be considered in the context of the cost of living in South Korea. The debate over minimum wage increases is ongoing, with arguments for and against. The government must carefully consider the impact of any changes to the minimum wage on employment and the economy as a whole.

What is minimum wage in South Korea in USD?

This data shows wages in South Korea, with the minimum wage being 9620 KRW per hour or 1178.142 USD per month in 2023. Wages in the manufacturing sector are higher, with an average of 4694645 KRW per month or 3593.398 USD per month in the fourth quarter of 2022.

What is the average wage in South Korea USD?

In December 2022, the monthly earnings in South Korea were recorded at 3,428 USD, which is an increase from the previous figure of 2,632 USD in November 2022. Further information can be found in the table provided.

How much is rent in Korea?

The average monthly rent for one-bedroom apartments in Seoul, South Korea increased from about 480,000 South Korean won in the previous month to around 510,000 South Korean won in February 2021.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my personal experience in Itaewon, spending US$100 a day is sufficient, although it is a pricier area compared to other parts of Seoul and bargaining may be necessary.

Is $300 dollars a lot in South Korea?

An amount of USD 300 is sufficient to cover expenses for three dinners and a day of sightseeing. A decent meal can be enjoyed at a local restaurant for under USD 50 per person. Shopping expenses will vary depending on your needs – souvenirs such as key rings can be purchased for just a few dollars, while more expensive items are also available.

Is it cheap to live in South Korea?

South Korea has a reasonable average cost of living compared to other Asian countries. It may not be as affordable as living in Laos or China, but it is also not as expensive as Japan or Singapore. Generally, the highest living expenses are in the capital city of Seoul.

In addition to the minimum wage rate, South Korea also has laws governing maximum working hours and overtime pay. According to the Labor Standards Act, employees are not allowed to work more than 52 hours per week, including overtime. Employers must also pay employees at least 1.5 times their regular wage for any hours worked beyond 40 hours per week.

While the minimum wage is an important factor in addressing poverty and income inequality, it is not a solution on its own. Other policies such as social welfare programs and education and training opportunities can also play a role in reducing poverty and improving economic mobility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of protecting workers’ rights and ensuring fair wages. As businesses have been impacted by lockdowns and restrictions, many workers have been left without income or job security. It is essential that governments continue to prioritize labor protections and fair wages in their response to the pandemic.

Finally, it is worth noting that the minimum wage is just one aspect of a larger conversation about fair wages and workers’ rights. In addition to setting minimum wage rates, governments must also address issues such as workplace safety, discrimination, and harassment. By creating a safe and fair work environment for all employees, we can work towards a more equitable society for everyone.

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