80% of Foreign Workers in South Korea Employed by Small Firms

Seoul, South Korea - The employment landscape for foreign nationals in South Korea has reached a new milestone this year, with nearly 1 million foreign workers employed, predominantly in small firms. Data released on Sunday shed light on the distribution of foreign labor across various company sizes in the country.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the number of foreign residents aged 15 and older in South Korea stood at 1.43 million as of May, with 923,000 of them employed. These figures represent an approximately 10 percent increase from the previous year, reaching record highs. Notably, 78.8 percent of these foreign workers were employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees. Additionally, 18.1 percent worked in medium-sized companies (with 50 to 299 employees), and only 3 percent were employed by large companies with more than 300 employees. This employment pattern has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade, as data from 2012 showed similar distribution percentages. The statistics also revealed that about 63.5 percent of foreign workers in 2023 were enrolled in employment insurance, compared to 77 percent of all wage workers in South Korea. The largest nationality group among these workers were ethnic Koreans with Chinese nationality (35.3 percent), followed by Vietnamese (11.3 percent) and Chinese (4.9 percent). Income-wise, around 33 percent of foreign workers earned between 2 million won (US$1,535) and 3 million won per month, and 24.4 percent made more than 3 million won.

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