South Korea confirms 2020 minimum wage at US$7.10

In this July 18, 2018, photo, a worker inspects dumplings on a conveyor belt to pick out a defective product at an automated factory of CJ CheilJedang Corp. in Incheon, South Korea. South Korea’s largest food company is making a multimillion-dollar bet on “mandu,” developing its own machines to automate the normally labor-intensive production of the Korean dumpling and building factories around the world. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) — South Korea’s hourly minimum wage for next year has been confirmed at US$7.10 after a months long debate.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor legally set the figure as the minimum wage for 2020, sticking with the recommendation of the minimum wage Commission last week.

It added that when factoring in the minimum wage to the 209 working hours every month, the monthly salary would come to 1.7 million won.

The 2.9 percent raise from this year’s minimum wage is the third-lowest margin of increase and has faced significant opposition from labor groups.

It will apply across all industries and take effect starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Following the commission’s resolution on the minimum wage, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, one of the largest labor groups here, filed a complaint arguing there was no logical explanation and the whole process was problematic.

“Efforts will be made to stabilize low-income workers by supporting them with social insurance and job-seeking subsidies. We will also continue to try to resolve the management issues that small and medium-sized companies encounter,” said Vice Minister of Employment and Labor Lim Seo-jung during a press briefing.

Since the introduction of a minimum wage policy in 1988, there have been multiple incidents of labor groups raising issue with the minimum wage Commission, all of which led to a reexamination.

This year, however, the government did not accept requests for a renewed look at its recommendation.

Opposing the move, nine members of the 27-member commission who represent workers said they would resign.

By Kim Bo-gyung