Korea, Republic of (ROK) - Labor



The labor force numbered 22 million in 2002. In that year, 10% were engaged in agriculture, 22% in industry, and 69% in the service sector. The unemployment rate in 2002 averaged 3%.

Before 1987, the labor movement was heavily controlled by the government, but since 1991, democratic reform has brought some changes. With the exception of public sector employees, workers enjoy the right to join unions even with as few as two members. All unions must register with the labor ministry. In 2002, about 12% of the workforce belonged to 5,698 registered local unions. Unions often exercise the right to strike, and collective bargaining is prevalent.

Children under the age of 15 are generally prohibited from working, and those under 18 must obtain written approval from their parents. The maximum regular workweek is set at 44 hours, with overtime pay mandatory for extended hours. In 2002, the minimum wage was $1.63 per hour. Health and safety standards are regulated by the government although it is not stringently enforced due to lack of inspectors.

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