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South Korea

Basic Economic Summary


In Korea, a wave of digital innovation is sweeping across all areas from online shopping to finance. Korea is thus likely to experience a sharp increase in demand for the following jobs: Technical Sales Representatives, Application Developers, SoC Design Engineers, Data Scientists, Deep Learning and Autonomous System Platform Specialists. (Robert Walters’ 2020 salary guide)

Basic Information

  • Local Languages: Korean (official)
  • Major Economic Hubs: Seoul, Busan, Incheon
  • Currency: South Korean Won (KRW)
  • Population: 51,300,000 (2020)
  • Date Format: yy/mm/dd

Useful Information

  • GDP Per Capita (in USD): $31,362
  • Exchange Rate (KRW/USD): 0.00091
  • PISA Ranking: 7
  • Number of University Graduates (2011): 4,206,673

Local Universities

Renowned Local Universities:

University Number of Graduates (Undergrad) Description Rankings
Seoul National University Information Unavailable Seoul National University (SNU) honours the ideals of liberal education and aims to teach students a lifelong love of learning that will form the basis for continuous personal growth. At the same time it is committed to preparing students to work and live in an increasingly competitive global environment. World University Ranking: 36, Asia University Ranking: 7, World Reputation Ranking: 10, Engineering and Technology Ranking: 32, Business and Economics Ranking: 33, Computer Science Ranking: 41
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology 740 (2019) Located in the science and research hub of Daedeok Innopolis in Daejeon, South Korea, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed into an active institution, often placed among some leading universities in global scientific education and research. World University Ranking: 96, World Reputation Ranking: 61-70
Sungkyunkwan University 3,856 (2019) Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is a world-class institution of higher education that has existed for more than six centuries. Since its founding as a royal Confucian academy in 1398 at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), SKKU has demonstrated strong academic leadership. Contemporary SKKU has embraced globalization and emerged as a leading university in Asia and the world. World University Ranking: 101, Asia University Ranking: 10, World Reputation Ranking: 81-90, Engineering and Technology Ranking: 60, Business and Economics Ranking: 151-175, Computer Science Ranking: 100
Pohang University of Science and Technology 310 (2019) Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) was founded in 1986 by POSCO, one of the world’s leading steel companies. It was established to train specialist engineers who could lay the groundwork for future technological development. World University Ranking: 151, Asia University Ranking: 15, Young University Rankings: 8, World Reputation Rankings: 176 – 200 Engineering and Technology Ranking: 46, Computer Science Ranking: 84
Korea University Information Unavailable Korea University, founded in 1905, is widely acknowledged as one of the country’s oldest, largest and top-ranked universities in Korea. Its reputation for quality is based on excellence in teaching, research and service to Korean society. Eminent faculty, outstanding students and internationally recognized research programs all contribute to Korea University’s academic fame. As a major comprehensive university, KU offers a rich variety of courses in liberal arts and sciences as well as in all professional fields, including law, medicine and business administration. World University Ranking: 167, Asia University Ranking: 20, World Reputation Ranking: 151-75, Engineering and Technology Ranking: 91, Business and Economics Ranking: 101-125, Computer Science Ranking: 101-125

Salary Data

Average Monthly Salary of Jobs:

These are the average salaries for some jobs in 2020. More information about average salaries in South Korea can be found on Robert Walters’ Salary Survey 2020.

Job TitleAverage Salary Range (KRW)Average Salary Range (USD)
Finance Manager5,833,333 – 7,500,0005,341 – 6,867
Front-End Developer3,333,333 – 7,500,0003,052 – 6,867
Back-End Developer4,166,667 – 10,000,0003,815 – 9,156
Data Scientist4,583,333 – 9,166,6674,197 – 8,393
UI/UX Designer2,916,667 – 8,333,3332,671 – 7,630
Product Owner3,750,000 – 9,166,6673,434 – 8,393
Retail Sales Manager5,833,333 – 7,500,0005,341 – 6,867

For Professionals working in the tech sector, 29% expect a 1-3% annual salary increment, 38% expect a 4-6% increase while 17% expect a 7-10% increase.

Talent Sourcing Tips

English Proficiency: Moderate Proficiency

Number of LinkedIn Users (2019): 254,000

Top Local Job Portals: saramin, JobKorea, Incruit

More information about job portals in South Korea can be found here.

Top Recruitment Agencies: Energy resourcing, Reed, Robert Walters

More information about recruitment agencies in South Korea can be found here.


Employer Payroll Tax

Type of TaxContribution (%)Notes
National Pension5%The monthly contributions are capped at KRW218,700 a month.
Employment Insurance1.05%-1.65% 
Industrial Accident Insurance0.73%-18.63% 
National Medical Insurance3.68%There is an income ceiling of KRW99.62 million per month for the monthly contributions.

Link to Employer Payroll Tax.

Employee Payroll Tax

Type of TaxContribution (%)Notes
National Pension4.5%The monthly contributions are capped at KRW218,700 a month.
National Medical Insurance3.68%There is an income ceiling of KRW99.62 million per month for the monthly contributions.
Employment Insurance0.8% 

Link to Employee Payroll Tax.

Employee Monthly Income Tax

Income Group (KRW)Contribution (%)
≤ 1,000,0006.6%
1,000,000 – 3,833,333.3316%
3,833,333.33 – 7,333,333.3326.4%
7,333,333.33 – 12,500,00038.5%
12,500,000 – 25,000,00041.8%
25,000,000 – 41,666,666.6744%
> 41,666,666.6746.2%

South Korea follows a progressive income tax model. Link to Employee Income Tax.

Minimum Wage & Payroll

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is 8,950 KRW per hour.

Payroll Cycle

Employees are paid monthly.


13th Month Salary

Not mandatory.

Working Hours & Statutory Leave

Maximum working hours

The average full time working hours is 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day.

The maximum working hours is 52 hours a week.

Overtime pay

The maximum weekly overtime is 12 hours.

Working after 10 pm is paid 200% of hourly salary, and each additional working hour beyond 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day is paid 150% of hourly salary.

Public Holidays

The public holidays can be found here.


Annual Leave
Years of Employment Number of Annual Leave
1 11
2 15
≥ 3 15+1 day leave every 2 years of employment (max 25)

Sick Leave

No paid leave.

Only sick leave due to work-related injury must be paid by the company.

Parental Leave

Maternity Leave

90 days maternity leave

  • If the business is small, first 60 days are paid by the government (up to 2 million won) and the company must pay the remaining salary if the salary is more than 2 million won. The last 30 days is not compulsory to be paid.
  • If the company is large, the first 60 days is paid by the company and the last 30 days (up to 2 million won) is paid by the government.
Paternity Leave

10 days of paid paternity leave, of which 5 days is paid by the company and the remaining by the government. They may request for unpaid paternity leave of up to 90 days from the day of the child’s birth.

Parental Leave

Government-paid parental leave of up to 1 year until the child reaches the age of 8.

Work-injury Leave

Employees are entitled to 70% of monthly salary for 3 months

Offboarding & Termination

Termination Process

The termination process is relatively simple.

The termination notice should be in writing and include the reasons for the termination.

Where employment rules provide for a particular process for dismissal (e.g disciplinary committee hearing), if not followed, the termination may be invalid.

Notice Period

30 days advance notice of termination or 30 days pay in lieu of notice. However, notice may not be required if the company is unable to continue business, or the employee has committed intentional misconduct or omission that has a serious implication on the company’s business or operation, or the employee has worked for <3 months.

Severance Pay

For full-time employees, the severance pay is equal to 1 month’s salary for each year of employment if they are employed for at least 1 year and have worked for >15 hours per week or >60 hours per month.

Alternatively, with the consent of the employee, the company may set up a retirement pension system.

Probation period

Not mandatory.

Maximum of 3 months



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