Friday, 28 November 2008

Korean (Bare) Minimum Wage

A few weeks ago some documents were handed to all Western teachers in our school which we duly signed and didn't take much notice of. Not very important stuff, but this week I took another look at them and they reveal the minimum wage of employees in Korea. The minimum hourly wage here is 3,770 ₩on (just a few ₩on more than the price of a Big Mac) which right now works out at £1.67 an hour. At the moment the won is doing terribly bad as a currency, at an eleven year low to the US Dollar, but even if the currency was strong, it would still work out to be a very low minimum wage. Unlivable on in both the US and in the UK. I don't know what jobs people get the minimum wage for - certainly none of my co-workers are on anywhere near that low a wage.

Perhaps this helps to explain why huge numbers of young adults live with their parents, sometimes into their 30's. Also this makes you understand the obsession of people to get married and why older people question people who remain unmarried for a long time. Maybe this helps to explain the importance people put in education here in order for parents' children to climb as high in society as they can.

Looking at things here, electricity, gas and phone bills are cheap but I don't know about housing costs. For the Westerner here life can be very comfortable, with basic things such as food and drink quite low, added to this, most foreigners don't pay housing rent either. I am earning less than I would be back home but am able to save a very significant percentage of my wage, far more than what I would earn back in England. Today is pay day for workers at my academy and I look at my wage for the month I wonder who could hope to save anything or what kind of life they could have if they earn the minimum here?

Currently the minimum wage for people of my age is £5.73 per hour. That's 13,000 ₩on.

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