In the film "Parasite", the audience has witnessed the extremely rich and poor diversification in Korean society. Despite the cinematography, they show that life in this economy is not easy. Behind the class of flowers painted on the screen is a sad story about the fourth largest economy in Asia and 11th in the world.
Recently, Korea received good news when National Income (GNI) calculated per capita reached 31,349 USD / year, surpassing the level of 30,000 USD for the first time in history. Currently there are only 7 countries in the world with a population of over 50 million people with GNI per capita exceeding 30,000 USD. The remaining countries include the US, Germany, Japan, France, England, Italy.
Ironically, this good news doesn't make anyone happy. Even government officials do not hold any celebrations or announcements. What is happening in Korea, one of the developed economies in Asia?
Korea is not as shimmering as you think
Back in history, Koreans used to celebrate a feast when their GNI per capita surpassed $ 10,000 in 1995. Just two years later, the currency crisis erupted and severely affected the commune. Korean Assembly. Businesses are bankrupt, a series of suicides still affect Koreans today.
In 2007, South Korea's GNI per capita exceeded $ 20,000, but only one year later, the global economic crisis took place. Although the Seoul government has resisted well with this crisis, it also scared people whenever GNI per capita reached a new milestone.
However, this is not the only cause for Koreans to be indifferent to the macro economy. South Korea's GNI per capita data includes not only personal income but also businesses or even government taxes.
Consequently, household income accounts for only 61% of GNI, much lower than the 79% in the US and 72.6% in Italy. Simply put, the average Korean income is far from over $ 30,000. This figure is mainly contributed by large corporations and government revenues.
Worse, the situation of rich and poor differentiation in Korea is extremely high. The proportion of the population with below average income in Korea is 17.4% in 2017, much higher than the average of 11.8% of the other six countries when their GNI per capita exceeds $ 30,000. Even the proportion of poor people over 65 years old in Korea reached 46.5% in 2016, the highest level ever in the remaining 6 countries.
It is so rich, but Korea pays very little for social security with the rate of only 11.1% of GDP, less than half of the average of 20.7% of the other 6 countries. Although the aging population is among the fastest in the world, the amount of money spent on retirement in Korea is getting slimmer.
In movies, we see a modern, quality and civilized Korean society. However, few people know behind the good quality of education is high education costs and expensive housing and wages do not increase, employment opportunities are less.
Expert Choi Sung Jin of the Korea Times said that many middle-class Korean families have fallen into poverty only a few days after they let their children go to school or buy or rent a house for marriage. But now Korean youth do not want to marry or give birth because they are too expensive. They also have to work hard to earn a living, even stress to suicide.
In 2017, on average, Korean workers worked 2,024 hours per year, 311 hours higher than the average of 1,713 hours of the other six countries. The rate of compensation cost for resignation employees on total sales in Korea is only about 10.1%, much lower than the rate of 25.2% of 6 other countries.
Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that South Korea ranks 10th in the world in suicide rate. Among the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Korea ranks first in the number of female suicides.
Super-rich Koreans make up only a small part but own large amounts of assets from the economy
The smile has disappeared
In the mid-1990s, Koreans were still happy when per capita GNI reached $ 10,000. About 60% of households in this period were considered middle class. But that joy ended quickly two years after the crisis took place.
Since then, the Korean economy has become increasingly dependent on large corporations and only a small number of Koreans are richer, while 80% of the people say they are poor.
This is why South Korean President Moon Jae In actively promoted the policy of increasing income and reducing working hours for the people. Ironically, this plan is met with fierce controversy from the working class itself.
The reason is that large enterprises increase their salaries but lay off employees, while small companies cannot tolerate new wages set by the state. Worse, these policies do not help much for retired seniors because they are no longer working.
The Korean economy is greatly supported by the US thanks to investment and aid packages as well as a large import-export market. Consequently, Korea is also affected by the rich and poor differentiation of the world's No. 1 economy.
In South Korea, Hana Bank statistics show that about 165,000 super-rich people, equivalent to 0.3% of the population, own up to 18% of the total assets of households. Every month, these super-rich Koreans make 39.1 million Won ($ 34,000) and spend about 10.1 million Won ($ 8,700).