The chairman of the board has arrived with your pizza delivery

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The chairman of the board has arrived with your pizza delivery

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A chairman of a board of directors delivers pizzas on weekends, and he works hard to remain competitive - at delivering pizzas. A struggling junk dealer also makes deliveries in his free time. An events coordinator tunes cars on the side.

The number of Koreans holding down more than one job has been on the rise for a number of years and continues to increase as people try to make ends meet. With the coronavirus outbreak, the ranks of the multi-employed will no doubt continue to swell.

The monthly average number of people with more than one job stood at 473,000 last year, up 9.3 percent from 2018, according to Statistics Korea data analyzed by Rep. Choo Kyung-ho.

“If the coronavirus outbreak lasts longer, I will end up in debt,” said one self-employed person explaining why he has two jobs.

Many people in this group choose to work as delivery drivers to cover their expenses and stay out of debt. That job category is the only one in which employment has increased since the coronavirus outbreak

During weekdays, Kwon Seong-hoon, 53, is in charge of sales and marketing at a cooperative that runs a tteokbokki business. During the weekends, he works as a pizza deliveryman. His position at the cooperative is the chairman of the board, but the monthly salary is 2 million won ($1,650).

“I voluntarily cut 1 million won from my salary last month,” Kwon said. “To raise our family of three, I can’t help but have multiple jobs, so I deliver pizza for four hours on Friday and seven hours on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 18 hours. I made 858,000 won last month.”

“My first motorcycle delivery was when I was running a pizza store five years ago,” he said. “Back then, I made pizza and delivered them myself, and that experience helps me now as I am familiar with the roads.”

Kwon said more self-employed people and office workers are looking for delivery positions, but many realize soon that the job is not as easy as it seems.

“The challenge is more emotional than physical. There are a lot of self-employed business owners and office workers who can’t manage to come to someone else’s store and do the delivery, clean up and dump the trash.”

Mr. Lee, 46, who owns and runs a junk shop in Incheon, recently earned less than 1 million won a month. The price of waste paper has fallen to 30 won per kilogram (2.20 pounds), and the amount of iron powder from nearby factories has decreased due to the economic downturn.

To make a living for a family of four, Lee has been working six hours on weekdays and 13 hours on weekends since January at a motorcycle delivery agency. On weekends, he gets 50 calls on average, and after excluding oil costs and agency fees, 150,000 to 160,000 won is left.

Lee dismisses the 10 million won delivery worker as something of a myth.

“If you ignore the traffic signals and ride the whole day, you may finish about 80 to 90 deliveries and earn 300,000 won a day,” he said, “but I wouldn’t do that by risking my life.”

Lee said he will have two jobs for the time being.

“I worked as a junk dealer for 20 years near the factory. My business depends on the manufacturing companies, but the trend has moved on from the manufacturing business,” he said. “At this time, I have to do anything I can.”

A performance and event equipment operator, Mr. Bang, 45, has earned almost zero income this year. He usually won business by bidding for events held by government offices, but he had no work because of the off-season in January and the coronavirus outbreak in February.

“The performance industry has shown a downhill slide since the Sewol ferry tragedy in 2014,” said Bang. “We fired five or six employees at the time and hired part-time contract workers whenever we had work to do. I don’t think there will be any work until the end of the second quarter.”

Bang began his work as a freelancer at an import car tuning company in January, in which the earnings range from 1 million won to 2 million won a month. As his income has decreased, Bang cut household spending.

“We hardly eat out, and we cut down on our weekend expenses. I also put out leisure equipment for sale.”

Neither Lee nor Bang applied for government-arranged emergency loans for small business owners.

“I’m worried that my income has decreased, but I’m more afraid of mounting debts,” Bang said.

“Financial aid to small business owners could increase debt,” said Lee Jung-hee, an economics professor at Chung-Ang University. “The government should consider providing direct support, such as for living expenses and tax reductions.”

“But there could be controversy over how to determine the beneficiaries, just as when the mayor of Seongnam, Gyeonggi, came up with the youth dividend in 2016, which was a program to pay a local currency worth 250,000 won a quarter to Seongnam citizens between the ages of 19 and 24,” she said. “More scrutiny is needed as the government has not yet grasped the reality of small business owners and self-employed people.”

BY KIM YOUNG-JOO [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]

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