Classified Salary Infuriates Job Applicants

When considering the perfect job position, applicants consider the location of the company, the working hours, the type of work, the salary, etc. However, in Korea, it is not always easy for job applicants to obtain salary information when considering a position. Often, only until after they accept a position do they find it out.

Article from eDaily:

Job applicants don’t know how much they will get paid. Hidden salary, fretting job applicants

"I'm curious of my salary" "It will be based on the company's regulation."  "Once you sign the contract, we will let you know."

“I’m curious about my salary”“It will be based on the company’s regulations.”“Once you sign the contract, we will let you know.”

Mr. Park lost his chance to interview after asking about the annual salary. He said “Annual salary is one of the most important pieces of information when choosing a company. I can’t understand why my question was problematic.”

Mr. Kim(25) who recently got a job in a company was embarrassed to see his first paycheck. It was only 950,000 won which was much lower than the lowest basic monthly income. When he asked the human resources department, they replied that only 80% of the basic salary would be given during a probation period. He was supposed to go to work early, and stay late while learning about his job. Now he is thinking of changing jobs.

In one of the worst job markets ever, the number of so called ‘in-the-dark applicants’, job applicants that accept a position without knowing the salary, has increased. As a result, though they got a job, they are upset by the pay.

Last month, Job Korea, an online job-search portal, analysed the recruiting information of 1,000 companies that wanted to hire university graduates. Only 27% out of 1,000 companies notified applicants of their pay levels.

Mr Kim(29), a job applicant, said, “Getting a job is a such a big turning point and the annual salary is a crucial standard for people in choosing jobs. It is hard to understand that I can’t find out how much I will be paid.”

Saramin, another online job-search portal, did a survey on 877 applicants. 4 out of 10 said they have quit their jobs after passing the final interview. About 39% of them cited that working conditions were different from what they had seen in the job advertisement. About 33% of them said the annual salary that a company offered didn’t meet their expectations.

One company recruiter said, “Applicants who ask about salary before being hired are considered opportunistic. They follow the money, leaving when it’s convenient for them, so it is natural to for them to have disadvantages in recruiting.”

Another said, “People evaluate a company based on the salary it gives. If the salary is lower than applicants’ expectations, it might harm the company’s image. That’s why we are not transparent about the salary offered to them.”

Many sites that publicize salaries of some major companies are popping up. These sites notify the public of a company’s the annual salary either by directly receiving data from companies, or from the site members. However, this information doesn’t reflect different pay roll systems, that form a gap between stated salary and the actual salary that workers really receive. Even some sites charge some money for membership, and inaccurate information upsets users.

A representative from the Ministry of Employment and Labor stated, “It is recommended that companies notify applicants of the exact annual salary in order to assist job applicants in their decision. Legally, however, we cannot force them to.” Mr Kim, a consultant at Korea Job Consultants Association, said that, “A variety of conditions, such as annual salary, are necessary to help job applicants choose where to work.”

Comments from Daum:


They apply for a job in order to make money, not for the sake of working. This whole country is running crazy and so are the companies. Are they turning all citizens into slaves, ke ke.


When job applicants submit their resumes, it’s fair for the companies to let them know the salary.. If the salary isn’t good enough for them, they can give up the position.


While common people were in agony, they helped Yoo Byeong-eon, the leader of the Salvation Sect, flee like a VIP, and described Moon Chang-geuk as if he was some anti-Japan independence fighter. Not to mention the Sewol ferry tragedy and their blood-sucking demand for tithes. Let’s go till the end, gae-dok and Gwanpia(bureaucrat + mafia).


They don’t let their applicants know their salaries in advance because they have no intention to offer good salaries. They want native-fluent English speakers who can do almost everything that needs to be done in the company to work for over 12 hours rather than 9 hours on paper, for only 18 million won a year. They just order their workers around rather than teach them what to do. And then, they say young people are jobless because they’re too weak-minded to work. Put yourself in their shoes. You can’t help but curse.

자라나는 숲님:

Even when experienced workers move to another place, they have to go through a probation period again, ke ke. Executives in small companies should think about how they would feel if their children were working for such companies before criticizing young job applicants’ standards.


Companies want to know every single detail about their job applicants, but they don’t disclose information to them, especially the salary?! When people sign a contract, they should know the salary, so I can’t understand why they keep it secret for as long as they do. Don’t tell me they don’t even sign a contract, which is illegal. If they get to know their salary on the first pay day, they will be even more pissed off and quit the job. It is fair for the companies to notify the salary in advance.


Companies don’t even give your resume back. Why would they not let their applicants know the salary? Bastards.


It is their trick to save on wages. Nothing new for small companies. That’s why people don’t want to work for small companies. However, medium-sized companies are different! There are many mid-sized companies that are better than big companies to their employees.


I’m working for a small company and every employee has to go through a probation period in which they get paid 80% of the basic salary. During the probation period, they still do things that other regular employees do. Who the hell made this kind of system? Who is this country for? I feel sorry for having a child in this situation.


The rich satisfy their greed by exploiting the poor.


I give my personal information out and to be fair, the company should do the same.


Companies are taking advantage of their position in full force. Who would want to begin working without knowing how much they will get paid? Are they slaves?


They want to know every detail about their job applicants, even family background which is irrelevant to the job. But they don’t notify their applicants of the salary, which is the most important part, ke ke. They are really hopeless.


Huh??? Isn’t it important to know the salary when you look for a job?? How can you get a job not knowing how much you will get paid???? That doesn’t seem to make sense. If you get disadvantages for asking about the salary and benefits, it shows that the company is that bad, which means you don’t even need to apply for it.


Well, fuck!! If it is opportunist to ask about the salary you will get, everyone in the world is opportunist. That interviewer looks like opportunist. He has nowhere else to go, so he has to suck the blood of his company.

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  • LaoShu

    and I thought it’s bad in China..

  • Chucky3176

    “A representative from the Ministry of Employment and Labor stated, “It is recommended that companies notify applicants of the exact annual salary in order to assist job applicants in their decision. Legally, however, we cannot force them to.””

    Bull shit! What is the labor ministry for, if they don’t protect the worker’s rights? They should do their jobs and stop the exploitation. This is an outrageous behavior by those companies and the government is letting them get away with this.

    • Boris

      I guess someone is getting greased somewhere along the lines.

      It is simple. Make it into law. And then enforce it.

      • tomoe723

        Even in the enforcement process, somebody is still getting greased somewhere.

        • Boris

          There is always someone being greased.

          • tomoe723


      • David

        It is not that easy. Even if you made it not law (as with many labor laws in Korea) most Koreans would never report a violation. We have almost no teachers who will take either of their two days off allowed each school year because they are afraid of being called lazy (not by the school administrators but by fellow teachers). Koreans take so little time off,even when it is part of your job. And this is education, in the business world (especially for new hires/low raked employees) long hours and slave like conditions (from a westerners perspective) is quite common.

        • vincent_t

          wait a minute..did you say 2 days off per year?? Really? Just 2 days?

          • David

            Let me clarify. School is in season 9 months out fo the year. When school is out (one month in Summer and about 7 weeks in Winter) the teachers are off work. But in addition to this and other holidays when the school is closed, our teachers get two personal days each year they can take off. I used one this year because I had to renew my passport and the consulate is only open during school hours. At the end of the year when finals are done I will take the other day off. If a teacher is sick or has to take care of a family emergency that is what these days are for, but most Korean teachers will never take even one of these days off.

          • What?

            Wait a second, I thought you were working in China at this moment?

          • David

            I am. I work at a Korean International school in Wuxi, China. So we have Chinese teachers who teach Chinese (like 8), we have Western teachers who teach English (8 of us) and the rest of the teachers are Koreans here on a two year contract (like 75 of them). Most of those have jobs back in Korea but get a 2 year leave of absence to teach here. So in some ways the Korean teachers and the western teachers share a lot of the same culture shock of being in China.

        • Boris

          If companies started getting fined for not allowing workers to have their mandatory days off, things will change. Hit the company in the pocket and they will think twice. Of course, for smaller businesses it might be a big issue, but if it isn’t done, then everyone gets screwed over.

          For teachers, the government can enforce it’s own laws on its own departments and its employees.

          The fact is, neither the government or companies want this.

          • David

            very true

  • Bryan Cheron
  • bigmamat

    Korea needs unions and labor laws. Until the Korean public wakes up and demands these things there is nothing to stop almost employers from doing almost anything.

    • Chucky3176

      What in the world are you talking about? Korea has the biggest unions in Asia, the most militaristic union in the whole world, and labor laws do exist.

      • bigmamat

        Don’t seem to be any laws to stop people from working overtime without pay. Do labor unions include salaried workers or just teachers and factory workers. Appears to me that office workers might need protection as well. Don’t start on some evil union rant with me because it won’t get anywhere.

        • Walk into a local labor office and see the skyscraper stacks of case files on each investigator’s desk. That’s where Korea’s labor laws go to die. Underfunded labor department with no teeth.

          • bigmamat

            I see, so they really have learned a lot from the Americans.

        • Chucky3176

          Korea’s unionization rate is around 9.8 percent, which is not too far behind the US’s 11 percent. In 1989, the rate of unionization in Korea was over 20 percent. However, Korean unions wield far more power in Korea, than the American unions in the US. For instance, the Korean trade unions will launch a simultaneous strike at all of Korea’s auto manufacturers (Hyundai-KIA, GM, Renault) on coming union votes. Another example, foreign banks are being driven out of Korea because of militant union activities, due to Korean union’s backwards demands of seniority pay rises over performance based pays.

          • bigmamat

            The problem Chuck isn’t the unions. It’s corporate greed and a global economy that allows for companies to shop around the world for cheap labor, lax environmental regulations and low corporate tax rates. Being 9% organized in an industrialized country is pretty much like having no unions at all. The US 40 years ago was 30% organized. But unfortunately the American public bought the trope that we’re all just frustrated millionaires and that unions were the reason for a stagnant economy.

      • KCdude

        The size of unions doesn’t matter in this case. Size doesn’t always translate to functionality.

        Look at the Dog House (a slang word for the National Assembly in South Korea) for example. There are 300 MPs* and yet not even 100 MPs are functional in the legislative processes.

        This is why South Korea deserves so much criticisms from other countries. Koreans love to argue about how their business companies or political institutions are big, But nobody wants to comment about whether they are competent or not.

        * Members of Parliament. I prefer the British terminology.

  • Ken Morgan

    Welcome to the modern feudal world, jobs in the UK, Canada and USA which are advertised with a salary as ‘competitive’ (code word for minimum wage) are quite normal. At least it isn’t as bad as Hong Kong, in Hong Kong they put up a salary of say $15000 and expect potential employees to go and offer to work for less.

    • bigmamat

      Well modern Korea has modeled it’s economy and after the US. I keep telling people that slavish devotion to unfettered free market capitalism is going to drive Korea right back into the Joseon era of a small ruling class over a vast underclass. It feels almost too late for us Americans.

      • Ken Morgan

        The US practices crony capitalism (fascism lite), if it were proper capitalist and proper free market, a lot of the problems would fix themselves, well apart from the end game (both unfettered capitalism and freemarkets tend to turn into absolute monopolies)

        • bigmamat

          So did I say anything wrong…we have both really…crony capitalism and monopolies or near monopolies. Certainly there’s no lack of trying…

    • tomoe723

      The only difference is that the poor in western countries can afford a car and still eat 3x a day, most probably obese and maybe unemployed. In 3rd world countries, they have to scavenge food from garbage dumps and hardly a stable roof on their heads.

  • JJ

    It really disgusts me that people don’t even know their salary until their first payday. How do you sign a contract if the salary is not stated? A contract is supposed to hold the employer accountable as well, not just state what they require of the employee.

    • Lilly of the valley

      That’s why it’s called SLAVERY! Only slave owners do such a thing if you really think about it. If you want to eat as a slave for my company you’re hired, thing is I WILL decide what you get. Slaves don’t have choices. Either you want to eat or you don’t. What quality of life is one supposed to have scraping the bottom??

    • KCdude

      It’s possible BECAUSE Korean logic.

  • Sarah

    The UK is good at giving notification of salary. Its the most important aspect! How can I rent myself a home, keep myself healthy without knowing my budgets. A job interview is not a company throwing some of the common muck a bone. When I go to an interview I am assessing them as much as they assess me. I turned down a job for having a rubbish salary the other week. Its not right to ask for loyalty from workers if the company can not be honest and up front.

  • Xio Gen

    The worst I’ve seen here is “Pay is negotiable”, but interviewers usually ask about what your salary should be once you pass the interview. That’s terrible that they wouldn’t even tell you what kind of pay you’ll get. Workers aren’t robots! If you want to hire people, you need to make it worth their while.

  • aasdf34sdf

    If the company doesn’t reveal the salary, it probably means it’s low or inadequate. I think this is a given.

  • maimai

    A contract is an agreement where both parties agree to the terms. If one party does not know the terms, it is not a contract.

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