Korea’s top earners keep growing

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Korea’s top earners keep growing


The number of Koreans who earned annual salaries of more than 100 million won ($91,000) hit 472,000 people in 2013, up about 13.7 percent from 415,000 the year before.

According to the National Tax Service’s annual report released Friday, a total of 16.3 million workers filed documents for year-end tax returns for 2013, and the high-income population earning salaries of 100 million won or higher accounted for 2.8 percent of the total.

The number of top salary earners has steadily increased in the past five years. In 2009, about 197,000 fell into the group.

But the growth rate has slowed since 2010. The number of high-income recipients grew 42.3 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, but dropped to 29.3 percent in 2011 and 14.9 percent in 2012.

Going further up the pay scale, 30,825 people earned annual salaries between 200 million won and 300 million won last year, while 13,260 received between 300 million won and 500 million won. About 6,820 workers earned 500 million won or higher.

“As overall levels of annual salaries have increased in the past few years, the growth rate of the high-salaried population that receives more than 100 million won has slowed down,” said an official from the National Tax Service.

Workers earning annual salaries of 20 million won and above accounted for 52 percent of the working population. This means that almost 48 percent of workers in Korea receive annual salaries of under 20 million won.

The average salary was 30.4 million won, up 2.7 percent compared to 29.6 million won in 2012.

By region, Ulsan residents again recorded the highest average annual income last year at 39 million won, followed by Seoul at 34 million won, Sejong City at 3.1 million won and Gyeonggi at 3.07 million won.

Residents of Jeju Island and Incheon earned the lowest average incomes at 25.4 million won and 26.5 million won, respectively.

Meanwhile, the number of women in the work force hit 3.87 million last year, slightly up from 3.56 million in 2012. The overall proportion of the female work force stood at 34.4 percent last year, only about 0.8 percentage points higher compared to 2012.

But consistent growth was shown over the past five years. The number of female business owners also increased last year. About 16.3 percent of all corporate bodies in Korea were owned by women, while 39.3 percent of individual businesses were owned by women.

BY PARK JIN-SEOK, KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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