South Korea : the wage gap between white and blue-collar workers increases
by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

The Korean economy is transforming : once based on heavy  industry it is now powered by the service industry.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The income gap between white and blue-collar workers widened further last year, reflecting that the income disparity is deepening. A report released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) Thursday showed that the average monthly income of white-collar workers or those who work in the office rose 2.8 percent to 2.98 million won (1 € = 1158,46 won) last year from 2.9 million won a year earlier.  During the same period, the monthly income of blue-collar workers, or industrial workers rose by 2 percent to 1.62 million won in 2005 from 1.95 million won in 2004.

The wage gap between blue and white collar workers has been increasing now for some years, bringing with it serious socio-economic repercussions.  Disparity has also increased, and the country's economic system has also transformed itself from one based on heavy industry to one based on the service industry.

The ratio of the average annual income of blue-collar workers to that of white-collar workers dropped to 54.6 percent last year from 55 percent in 2004 and 55.7 percent in 2003.  There is also a large difference between the wage of  university and high school graduates.  The average annual income of wage earners with postgraduate school degrees averaged at 46.79 million won in 2005, while that of workers with high school diplomas stood at 24.8 million won.  The gross annual income of wage earners holding bachelor's degrees averaged at 36.17 million won.

On monthly basis, the average income of salary workers who hold either a master's degree or a doctorate shrank 0.9 percent from 3.9 million won in 2005 from 3.93 million won of a year ago, while that of those who completed university studies increased 3.6 percent to 3.01 million won from 2.92 million won.  The average monthly income of those who only graduated high schools also increased 3.5 percent.