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Why Koreans with per GDP of 30000 not happy

According to the latest data released by the Korea Statistics Office, the per capital GDP of South Korea reached US$31,370 in 2018, and the per capital GNI reached US$31,349, surpassing the US$30,000 mark for the first time. South Korea has entered the era of per capital GNI of $30,000 and has become a world-famous developed economy. In South Korea, there is the saying of "5030 Club", that is, the developed countries with a population of more than 50 million and a per capital GNI of more than 30,000 US dollars. The members include the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Italy and other six countries.



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How does South Korea achieve 30,000 US dollars per capital?

Looking back on the past, we especially feel that South Korea's success is not easy. First, the starting point of the rise of the Korean economy is low. In 1945, the Korean peninsula just got rid of Japanese colonial rule, but it fell into the split between the North and the South brought about by the separate occupation of the United States and the Soviet Union. The South and the North were founded alone in 1948. From 1950 to 1953, in the context of the global cold war, a fierce hot war turned the Korean peninsula into a ruin of war. It is precisely on the ruins of the war, with the assistance of the United States and Japan, the integration of the capitalist world economic system has opened the curtain of economic growth. South Korea takes full advantage of all development opportunities and embarks on a path of economic take-off through export-led growth. Beginning with the first five-year plan of 1962, the Korean economy began its rapid growth for decades. In 1996, South Korea became the OECD, which was also known as the "Fuguo Club." In 2006, South Korea's per capital GNI reached 20,000 US dollars; in 2018, South Korea's per capital GNI reached 30,000 US dollars.

Second, the economic development of South Korea is difficult. South Korea has only about 100,000 square kilometers of land, and resource endowment conditions are very limited. South Korea makes full use of human resources to achieve national development. For example, people who are concerned about South Korea may have seen the movie "International Market". The background is that South Korea sent miners and nurses to Germany to earn foreign exchange that was scarce at the time. South Korea dispatched 7,936 miners and 11,057 nurses to Germany from 1963 to 1977. In December 1964, South Korean President Park Chung-hee and his wife Lu Yingxiu visited West Germany. They deliberately went to the Ruhr Coal Mine to visit the Korean compatriots.

Everyone sang the national anthem in unison. Park Chung-hee thanked them for coming to work in West Germany for their families to stay away from home. The first lady, Lu Yingxiu, could not help but secretly wipe away the tears. From 1965 to 1975, the number of remitted miners and nurses to South Korea amounted to $115 million.

The domestic factor for the development of South Korea lies in the growth model of large enterprises. In the modern economic growth, the development of enterprise organization has to go through such a process: the separation of farmers from the countryside - the emergence of a large number of individual enterprises - the emergence of private non-individual large enterprises - technology upgrades - monopoly large enterprises to expand space abroad.

Under the choice, support and stimulation of the government, the development of large Korean companies has completed this process and become a knight in the international market for the interests of South Korea. In a Confucian society pursuing egalitarianism, it is very difficult to develop large-scale enterprises. South Korea has successfully achieved this, which is the crystallization of Korea's unique development strategy. Although its control over the Korean economy has touched the national economic security, there is no doubt that large enterprises are an important carrier of Korean economic development and the pride of Koreans.

A person, a lifetime, the key steps are right, life is not the same. In a country, the key three major choices are right, and the country's face is different. South Korea is such a country that has seized important development opportunities through its own efforts.



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Why do Koreans feel no sense of economic progress?

Although the South Korean central bank announced good news that the per capital GNI exceeds $30,000, Korean nationals seem to be not enthusiastic. After decades of development, South Korea has become a developed country and has become a "5030 club". This is an amazing achievement. However, compared with other developed countries, South Korea is still not satisfactory in terms of quality of life such as environment, employment and social distribution. It is difficult for ordinary Koreans to “compress the big mountains” to realize the happiness that should be felt in the era of per capital income of 30,000 US dollars.

An important reason why ordinary Koreans do not feel happy is: long working hours and low social welfare. According to the report of the Korean National Daily website, when the members of the "5030 Club" entered the threshold of 30,000 US dollars, the average annual working time was 1,713 hours, while the average labor time of Korean workers in 2017 was 2024 hours. In terms of the proportion of social welfare expenditure to GDP, the average data of “5030” member countries is 20.7%, and South Korea is only 11.1% in 2018.

This shows that ordinary Korean workers pay nearly 20% of the time cost for their economic achievements, but they only enjoy less than half of the welfare expenditures of other developed countries. As the saying goes, "Without comparison, there is no harm."


Not only is the working hours long, the social welfare is low, and the income of ordinary Koreans is also growing slowly. In his book "Korean Capitalism", Zhang Xiacheng, a well-known Korean economist, proposed a concept called "three no growth", that is, economic growth without employment, no wages, and no distribution.

In other words, the economic growth provides insufficient motivation for employment, and the wage income of workers cannot keep up with the pace of economic growth. For example, the author mentioned that during the decade from 2002 to 2012, South Korea’s average economic growth rate was 3.8%, but the real wage growth rate of residents was only 2.1%.

Workers did not share enough economic growth dividends, and the labor income distribution rate fell from 80.4% in 1998 to 68.1% in 2012. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to improve the household income situation. This is also the direction of the efforts of South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nanji: to change the development paradigm of the national economy to share the economic growth dividend.

When observing the middle and lower classes of Korea, an important issue in the field of employment in Korea is the issue of informal jobs, similar to what we call "temporary workers." In South Korea, about one-third of wage workers are in informal jobs, and their average monthly salary is only half that of formal workers. Employing informal jobs is an important way for companies to reduce costs, and it is also an important reason why ordinary national income is difficult to high.



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In South Korea, the youth unemployment rate remains high. Young people with higher education, who are also wealthier generations, prefer not to work without good jobs. According to data from the Korea Statistics Office, the overall unemployment rate in South Korea in 2008 was 3.8%, but the youth unemployment rate in the 20-29 years old was as high as 9.5%.

The reason related to the youth employment problem is that in the past few years, South Korea has seen the so-called “three-generation generation” of “abandoning” love, marriage, and childbirth. In recent years, it has been upgraded to “N-generation generation” or even “total generation”. These young people are uneasy about the future.

They have no struggle and hardship spirit of the previous generation of Koreans. They are not arrogant about the future and enter the "low desire society." Correspondingly, the birth rate in South Korea has fallen sharply, the number of children has grown rapidly, and the development prospects are not optimistic.

In this context, how can ordinary Koreans feel the happiness of per capital GNI of $30,000? Think of Zhu Ziqing's "Hollywood Moonlight", "The excitement is theirs, and I have nothing."