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South Korea's income gap continues to grow as domestic economy slows

By
Wooyoung Lee
Angry self-employed businessmen from across the country call for the government to revoke the recent sharp increase of the minimum wage during a rally amid heavy rains at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul on Aug. 29, 2018. Many self-employed persons gave up their businesses in the wake of the hike. Photo by Yonhap
Angry self-employed businessmen from across the country call for the government to revoke the recent sharp increase of the minimum wage during a rally amid heavy rains at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul on Aug. 29, 2018. Many self-employed persons gave up their businesses in the wake of the hike. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The top 20 percent of South Korean families earned an average of seven times as much income as the bottom 20 percent during the third quarter of this year, the biggest wealth gap reported in a decade.

According to a state statistics agency, the average monthly income of the bottom 20 percent of families decreased by 7 percent to $1,167 (1.3 million won) during the third quarter this year, compared to the same period last year.

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Meanwhile, the average monthly income of the top 20 percent of families rose by about 9 percent to $8,620 (9.7 million won).

Statistics Korea said the monthly income of the bottom 20 percent has been on a decline for three consecutive quarters this year while the top 20 percent has seen its monthly income increasing for consecutive 11 quarters since 2016.

Middle-income families earned an average of $3,672 (4.1 million won) a month, 2 percent increase from the previous year. Upper-middle-income families brought home an average of $5,039 (5.6 million won), 6 percent increase than a year ago.

The drop in the monthly income of the bottom 20 percent of families has been due to the low unemployment rate and the slow pace of the domestic economy, according to the statistics office.

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