Korea’s Double Jeopardy of Low Minimum Wage and High Prices

Article from SBS:

Grocery Shopping on Minimum Wage Bears an Empty Cart

This picture has been trending lately across the internet.

england min wage grocery

This is the result of grocery shopping with 23,000 won [20.87 U.S. Dollars], the amount of money one could earn from working two hours at minimum wage in Britain.

A wide range of food can be purchased, including 780 grams of pork neck, strawberries, tomatoes, mushrooms, and even milk.

What standard of food can be purchased on Korea’s hourly minimum wage of 5,580 won [5.05 U.S. Dollars]?

We took the 11,160 won yielded under the same assumption to the supermarket.


After purchasing 180 grams of pork neck that costs over 2,600 won per 100 grams, relatively cheap bananas and potatoes grown in the Philippines, ramyeon, and water, the bill already comes to around 11,000 won.

The difference between Britain’s shopping cart is immediately visible.

SBS News college reporter Kim Min-young, “You really can’t buy anything when trying to get groceries on the minimum wage. Not only is the wage low, but prices are high, leaving consumers feeling bitter.”

The SBS New Media Department’s News Team investigated shopping carts filled on minimum wage that were submitted by netizens from other countries.

From countries around 13,000 won like the Netherlands and Germany, to the U.S. and Japan with wages at 7,000-8,000 won, the contrast with Korea was still distinct.

When you factor in purchasing power, South Korea has a relatively low real minimum wage.

Kim Min-su, Head of the Youth Community Union, “Low income workers must feel a huge burden when trying to fill their refrigerators and cook for their families on this amount of money. The need for a large, adequate increase in the minimum wage is apparent.”

South Korea falls towards the bottom with the 17th lowest minimum wage when compared to the 25 OECD countries .

In minimum wage negotiations that started June 18th, workers are demanding a 10,000 won increase while employers are fighting to freeze the current wage.

The Minimum Wage Council is scheduled to decide next year’s minimum wage by June 29th.

Comments from Naver:


The government rolled out the coexistence reform policy without agreement from labor to increase employment by adding part-time jobs and wage peak jobs. They knew there was a problem with the consumer price index but just ignored it because it was low. They ignored the quality of jobs created despite President Park’s promises just so they could raise the employment rate. Despite the trillions of dollars large companies are rolling in, the government throws more money at them in the name of economic recovery while telling workers to tighten their belts. Plus Kim Moo-sung, a candidate for the next presidential election, says stupid things like dealing with corrupt employers or confronting bosses who don’t pay their employees is within the capacity of students working part-time jobs.


Think about the intensity of the work


Hell Korea indeed! This is how hell’s citizens live.


Noraebang “doumi” get 30,000 won an hour that’s too much investigate for price fixing.


Our country’s prices are too high… intermediaries between producers and consumers that jack up prices are thieves


I know because I lived abroad. The wages are twice that of Korea while the prices are similar.


The people who demand a wage freeze while the prices keep rising are just sitting around spewing nonsense.


Economic Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said that if prices continued to stay low we’d have a crisis hahaha his salary of $90,000 a year is indeed a low, low price bahaha reality is outdoing even Gag Concert [popular sketch comedy show].


It’s really fascinating… Koreans seem to have the blood of slaves running through them. To the extent that it’s a miracle there haven’t been riots. When I looked at the comments last time, there was a convenience store worker making less than the minimum wage who was scared his store would go out of business hahaha


I don’t care if you lower consumer prices, raise wages, or lower housing prices, just do something~~ the problem is that consumer and housing prices keep going up while our spending money remains at a standstill, isn’t it


Korea has a weak minimum wage but the problem lies in prices… Today’s prices are outrageously expensive.. do we really think raising minimum wage will solve that? Prices will just rise proportionally lol


We need to lower prices keke


Wages are agonizing when compared to prices seriously


Most places don’t even pay the full minimum wage


That’s weird, didn’t the deputy prime minister say we were experiencing a price slump…

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