South Korea survey: 74 percent of women face discrimination

South Korean women say they are being discriminated against at many levels, a new survey shows. File Photo by Yonhap
South Korean women say they are being discriminated against at many levels, a new survey shows. File Photo by Yonhap

March 2 (UPI) -- The overwhelming majority of working women in South Korea say they have experienced some form of gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and wage discrimination, according to a local survey.

Bae Jin-kyung of the Korean Women Workers Association said Monday the survey of 404 South Korean women that took place from Jan. 16 to Feb. 25 indicate most respondents, or 74 percent, experience some form of discrimination.


Respondents said they are victims of a gender wage gap; 54 percent said they have been unable to break free of low pay, and 53.5 percent of the surveyed people said they receive lower salaries than men who perform the same work, according to South Korean news service Oh My News.

South Korean news service Voice of the People reported KWWA has staged protests against wage discrimination in February.

Discrimination against women may begin before their term of employment, according to the survey. About 46 percent of respondents said they were treated differently as women in the hiring process; about 44 percent said they were regarded less highly because they were not the male head of their households.

Respondents also said they are the target of biased language. Honorifics, used commonly in South Korea in the professional work environment, are applied less to women than men in the office, the survey shows.


Honorifics, usually mandatory for a younger man or woman when addressing their senior colleagues, are not being applied to women, one respondent said.

"While honorifics are used to address men at work, they are not when I'm being spoken to," one respondent said, according to KWWA. The source also said younger men did not use honorifics to address her and sometimes even used curse words.

Women are also expected to beautify themselves and wear makeup at all times. Women who do not wear makeup are derided as "looking ill" at her workplace, one survey respondent said.

Expectations about women and the presentation of their femininity or visual appeal may contribute to workplace sexual harassment, Bae said.

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