Minimum hourly wage in South Korea 2009-2019

The legal minimum wage in South Korea stood at 8,350 South Korean won per hour in 2019. With an increase of around 10.9 percent compared to the previous year, this was the second largest annual increase since 2001. A legal minimum wage was only established by the South Korean government in 1988, driven by the booming economy at that time.

Is raising the minimum wage beneficial?

President Moon Jae-in has pledged to raise the minimum wage to at least 10,000 won by 2020; a controversial move that has been endorsed by scholars but criticized by both conservative and liberal political commentators across the country. The general public are also divided, with some arguing the consequential increase in the cost of living is a negative outcome of the wage increase. Recent opinion polls showed that only half of the population shared a positive sentiment towards the general direction their country is going.

How are small and medium sized businesses affected?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have also been opposed to raising the minimum wage. Most business owners of this size stated that increasing revenue and maintaining profitability were major challenges for them, and this is intrinsically linked to the minimum wage they pay their employees. Related to this, a large proportion of entrepreneurs were uncertain about starting a new business in South Korea. Nevertheless, the economic outlook for South Korea is positive, with the gross domestic product per capita projected to continue to rise.

Minimum hourly wage in South Korea from 2009 to 2019

Minimum wage in South Korean won
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Release date

July 2019


South Korea

Survey time period

2009 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Note: 1,000 South Korean won equal 0.85 U.S. dollars and 0.76 euros (as of July 2019).

Date given here is the day of data access.

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Statistics on "Demographics of South Korea"

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