‘The media tells meeveryone else is rich’

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‘The media tells meeveryone else is rich’

The Word on the Web series brings together a range of comments posted online by Koreans discussing trending issues.


Among people earning more than 6 million won ($5,000) a month, nine out of 10 people felt they don’t even make it into the middle-income household bracket in Korea, according to a recent survey by a government agency.

The “2021 social survey” published by Statistics Korea on Tuesday showed that 91.1 percent of Koreans who earn over 6 million won in average monthly income answered that they were socially and economically below middle class last year.

Those earning more than 6 million won a month were in the highest-earning group of survey participants, but 34.7 percent still said they consider themselves to be lower middle class and 12.8 percent said they fall into a lower class.

One explanation could be the increasing gap between earned income and income from assets.

Even when someone earns a lot, if they don’t own real estate, they tend to think they are disadvantaged.

According to local housing statistics, overall housing prices in the country increased by 49 million won on year as of Nov. 1 2020. Over the same period, the price of the top 10 percent of housing jumped up 260 million won.

The takeaway is that the rapid increase in asset value has left people with an income inferiority complex.


“What good is it if I earn 6 million won a month? Marriage, parenting, providing for my parents — nothing comes easy.”

“Earned income means nothing. You can’t beat someone who has a home in Seoul. Someone on the payroll can’t beat someone born with a golden spoon in their mouth.”


“It makes sense that people who used to think they were high class now think they’re middle class. Rich people today aren’t just rich, they’re unimaginably rich.”

“The economical gap has widened. People who do well get richer, and those who don’t, suffer even more.”


“Even if I have a good income, I can never save it up. At the same time, I feel like I fall in a low class because everyone — from celebrities to some random average people — brags about their luxury items and homes.

“The media tells me that everyone else is rich except me, so even when I actually make a good living for myself, I feel like I am part of the middle class.”

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