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Income Gap between Men and Women Widens in Korea Updated: 2012-07-06 12:00:00 KST

Income Gap between Men and Women Widens in Korea
Lee Ok-nam, a middle-aged woman, works at a restaurant in Seoul.
For working here 12 hours a day, five days a week, she and her co-worker each get 1.3 million won a month, which is roughly 11-hundred dollars.
11-hundred dollars a month makes it hard to get by in the bustling city of Seoul and the work leaves little personal time.


[Interview : Lee Ok-nam, Restaurant Employee] "I don't have any time for myself. And I have very little time for house chores and the family, which is hard for all of us."

In Korea, more women than men are taking up low-paying jobs, which are often non-regular positions.
Of all females in the Korean workforce, 43-percent of them are non-regular workers while 28-percent of all male workers have temporary jobs.
This graph shows how much women get paid relative to men by age group, with the average income for men placed at 100.
Female workers get paid better than their male colleagues if they are under the age of 25.
But beyond that, women's income is lower than that of men across all age groups.


[Interview : Dr. Kim Young-ock, Researcher
Korean Women's Development Institute] "For women aged 35 and above, their income falls far below that of men. What this shows is many women leave their jobs for childbirth and childcare in their mid-30s. Some don't return to the labor market at all. Others do return but to lower-paying jobs."

To help women work and raise families at the same time, the Korean government has come up with a more flexible childcare leave system.
Working mothers with children under the age of 8 can choose to take time off from work, up to a year.
Previously, only mothers with children under the age of 1 could use this leave.
But if mothers want to keep working, they can choose to work fewer hours.
Firms can be subject to a fine of 5 million won, or 44-hundred dollars, if they refuse to comply with the policy.
Experts stress that firms, both public and private, need to move towards this direction and support creating an environment that's more friendly for working parents.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
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