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Average income grew by 750,000 Won in 2017

Nov 19,2018
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Annual incomes rose last year, with the top 10 percent of Koreans earning more than 67 million won ($59,740) a year and 440,000 people making over 100 million won, a recent study found.

The Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) reported Sunday that the average annual salary in Korea was 34.75 million won last year, according to data on 15.19 million workers provided by the Ministry of Employment and Labor. The 2017 average was up 750,000 won, or 2.2 percent, compared to 2016, when the average was 34 million won.

The median income in 2017 was 27.20 million won, which was also higher by 800,000 won or 3 percent compared to the previous year.

Workers in the top 10 percent earned more than 67.46 million won and an average of 96.20 million won last year. Their income rose 1.4 percent on average compared to the previous year. The top 10 to 20 percent earned an average of 57.14 million won, while the top 20 to 30 percent earned an average of 43.65 million won.

The bottom 10 percent earned an average annual salary of 6.56 million won, unchanged from the previous year. Workers in the bottom 10 to 20 percent earned an average of 14.16 million won, or 5.3 percent higher than the previous year, the highest growth among all income brackets. The average income of workers in the bottom 20 to 30 percent was 18.01 million won, or 5 percent higher on-year.

The average annual salary of full-time employees at conglomerates was 64.60 million won, nearly double the average salary of full-timers at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which stood at 35.95 million won.

The income gap between workers at conglomerates and smaller companies improved slightly from 2016.

While the average salary of employees working at conglomerates decreased by 600,000 won, the average income of employees working at SMEs increased by 1.02 million won. As a result, the average annual salary of employees at SMEs was 55.6 percent of the average of employees at conglomerates in 2017, up from 53.6 percent in the previous year.

Some 440,000 workers, or 2.9 percent of the total, earned an annual salary of over 100 million won. Another 3.4 percent of workers earned between 80 and 100 million won, while 7.1 percent earned between 60 and 80 million won and 15.4 percent earned between 40 and 60 million won. Over 70 percent of Koreans earned less than 40 million won a year, with 31 percent of them earning less than 20 million won.

“The average annual salary rose overall despite negative external and internal factors like the U.S.-China trade war and challenges in the domestic automobile and shipbuilding industries,” said Choo Kwang-ho, the head of KERI’s Employment Strategy Department. “The salaries of people in the bottom 10 to 30 percent rose by over 5 percent, while salaries of full-timers at SMEs rose. With salaries of workers at conglomerates decreasing by 0.9 percent, the gap between employees of SMEs and conglomerates narrowed.”

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]