Over Half a Million Koreans Juggle 2 Jobs

Over Half a Million Koreans Juggle 2 Jobs

A record 506,000 Koreans juggled two jobs last year, data from Statistics Korea show, up around 100,000 from five years ago and suggesting that the quality of jobs is deteriorating.

The figure increased among both salaried workers and the self-employed. The number of salaried workers juggling two jobs stood at 302,000, up 23.3 percent compared to five years ago, while 157,000 self-employed people worked two jobs, up 37.1 percent.

The increase appears to be due to salaried workers in small or mid-sized companies whose overtime pay shrank once the working week was capped at 52 hours, and self-employed people who were hit by lockdown.

One 33-year-old owner of coin-karaoke parlors in Gwanak, Seoul started delivering food last October. Even though he had 16 karaoke parlors, his income declined in the coronavirus pandemic, so now he earns around W4 million a month delivering food but has sold all but one of the karaoke parlors (US$1=W1,265).

Ninety percent of the self-employed who started moonlighting amid the pandemic were small store owners without staff. 

More salaried workers also juggled two jobs, especially after the shorter working week was implemented in small and mid-sized companies in July last year. As available overtime was slashed, many laborers in manufacturing businesses also chose to deliver food or parcels after hours to earn extra money.

Moonlighting increased particularly sharply among younger workers, who had a harder time landing a proper job in the pandemic, and those over 60, who are typically not as well paid as those in middle age.

The number of people in their 20s and 30s who work two jobs increased more than 40 percent since 2016 to 104,000 last year, and the number of those in their 60s surged 57.2 percent to 114,000.

But among people in their 40s and 50s, the number dwindled from 227,000 to 214,000. 

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