The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations
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The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations

Edited by Young-Myon Lee and Bruce E. Kaufman

The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations explores current employment and workplace relations practice in South Korea, tracing their origins to key historical events and giving cultural, politico-economic and global context to the inevitable cultural adaptation in one of Asia’s ‘miraculous’ democracies.
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Chapter 11: Women, employment and gender inequality in South Korea

Heiwon Kwon and Virginia L. Doellgast


This chapter assesses the degree of gender inequality in Korea based on available statistics concerning gender employment and wage gaps. Gender inequality has persisted and has become durable over the last decade. Although women’s economic activity and labor force participation have increased, the gender gap remains strikingly wide in terms of both the employment rate and wages. This is due to three factors. First, Korea’s long-working-hours culture and breadwinner ideology unduly burden women with caregiving, an unsustainable role for the employed. Second, women are concentrated in low-wage, insecure, contingent employment with low protection and no representation as a result of labor flexibilization policies from the 1990s. Finally, the feminization of part-time low-quality work will continue to hinder women’s full integration into the labor market. We conclude with a discussion of the implication of our findings for policies that seek to better integrate work and family lives.

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