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Men earn 1.6 times more than women in S. Korea: gender ministry

National 15:17 September 02, 2021

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- Male workers in listed firms in South Korea earned 1.6 times higher wages than their female colleagues last year, a government survey showed Thursday.

Men were paid an average 79.8 million won (US$68,800) in 2020, while their women counterparts received 51.1 million won, according to the study on 2,149 listed firms by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The gender wage gap, referring to the rate of men's average pay to that of women, reached 35.9 percent last year, far higher than 12.8 percent, the latest average of the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released by British weekly The Economist, according to the ministry.

It is the first time the South Korean government had unveiled the average earnings by gender in local listed firms.

This image, provided by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, shows the wage gap between men and women in South Korea. The bar graph (R) shows men earned 79.8 million won (US$68,800) on average in 2020, while women earned 51.1 million won. The other graph shows men earned 77.7 million won on average in 2019, while women earned 49.2 million won. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The average length of corporate service was 12.2 years for male workers and 8.2 years for female workers last year. The difference in their career length marked 32.6 percent in 2020, down 2.6 percentage points from 35.2 percent tallied the previous year.

The ministry said the wage gap tends to be in line with the disparity in workers' length of service. It hits 28.7 percent when both genders have worked the same length of time, but the gap hikes to 46.1 percent when men's length of service is 50 percent longer than that of women's.

By industrial sector, employees in business facilities management firms experienced the highest gender pay gap of 48.5 percent, while financial firms posted 41.4 percent in wage disparity rate.

Arts and sports companies and energy suppliers both reported the lowest gender difference in pay with 22.5 percent each, apparently due to the smaller discrepancy in the length of service between women and men, according to the ministry.

This illustrated image depicts the wage gap between men and women. (Yonhap)

In addition, a separate survey on 369 public institutions found male workers were paid 7.76 million won on average last year, which is 27.8 percent larger than their female counterparts who earned 56.1 million won.

Men worked 13.8 years on average and women 8.8 years in public firms in 2020, with the gender gap in the length of service falling 2.1 percentage points on-year to 36.1 percent.

"We should relieve the general gender discrimination in the labor market, such as by removing entry barriers to the job market and glass ceilings, in order to narrow the wage gap between women and men," Chung Young-ai, the gender equality minister said, adding the government will beef up its efforts to do so.


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