The Korea Economic Research Institute announced on Sep. 22 that the average annual salary of wage earners in South Korea increased 4.6 percent to 36.34 million won last year. “The top 10 percent showed the minimum annual salary of 69.5 million won and it was 50.62 million won, 40.64 million won, 33.8 million won, and 28.64 million won for the second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-highest groups, respectively,” it said.
Last year, the third-lowest group showed an average increase in salary of 10.4 percent, followed by the second-lowest (10.3 percent) and the fourth-lowest (7 percent). Meanwhile, the top 10 percent and the next two groups posted an average increase of 3.2 percent, 3.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.
During the period, the average annual salary of full-time employees working for large corporations was 64.87 million won (up 0.4 percent from a year ago) and that of those working for small and medium-sized enterprises was 37.71 million won (up 4.9 percent from a year ago). The ratio of the latter to the former rose from 55.7 percent to 58.1 percent in 2018, which means their salary gap narrowed by 2.4 percentage points.
The number of those who earn at least 100 million won a year totaled 490,000, 3.2 percent of the entire group of wage earners. They were followed by 560,000 (3.6 percent) who earn 80 million won to less than 100 million won, 1.16 million (7.5 percent) who earn 60 million won to less than 80 million won, 2.53 million (16.4 percent) who earn 40 million won to less than 60 million won, 6.78 million (43.9 percent) who earn 20 million won to less than 40 million won, and 3.92 million (25.4 percent) who earn less than 20 million won.
“Last year, wage earners’ average annual salary rose 4.6 percent, 2.4 percentage points more than in the previous year, while the growth rate of the South Korean economy fell from 3.2 percent to 2.7 percent,” the institute said, adding, “An increase in wage should be carried out in step with productivity improvement.”