Here's a sample:
As the gap between rich and poor is expected to increase, the statistics typified a phenomenon that South Korea is facing: the co-existence of rich households with more income than those in a developed economy and poor households with income equivalent to those in an underdeveloped economy. Last year, the average monthly income of the bottom 20 percent households was 1,329,307 won (US$1,407). Given the average number of family members, 2.87, and a won-dollar exchange rate of 929.20, the annual per-capita income of the bottom 20 percent of the population was calculated at $5,982. In contrast, the average monthly income of the upper 20 percent of households was 7,234,415 won. With 3.64 family members, the annual per-capita income of the upper 20 percent was $25,667. According to worldwide income statistics for 2006, released by the World Bank, the standard of living of the bottom 20 percent of the population is similar to that of people living in Gabon and El Salvador, while the standard of living of the upper 20 percent is similar to that of people living in Australia and New Zealand.
The silver lining to all this may be the following:
According to recent surveys executed by Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun and Britain’s BBC, Korea has the highest ratio of people who are dissatisfied with socioeconomic polarization. Up to 86 percent of Koreans are discontent with the nation’s income disparity.I guess this is the major factor distinguishing inequality in Korea vs. other countries like the UK or the US, where people seem much more comfortable with the income gap, preferring to regard it as a failure of the individual rather than society. No such analysis seems possible in Korea yet -- I suppose because the memory of the developmental dictatorship, the economic crisis, and the clear structural biases of the different economic models Korea has followed (developmental dictatorship and some sort of chaebol-style or export push style neoliberalism) have always been apparent because of the rapid pace of economic mobilization (of getting people to work under bad conditions in export manufacturing to the neglect of domestic social issues and economic welfare), change (like flexibilizing the already precarious through their employment status), and reform (IMF and other shock therapy like labour legislation, FTAs, etc). All this creates winners and losers, or especially bitter losers judging as compensation for them is extremely low, just look at the figures on total welfare expenditure compared to other countries and you will see what I mean.