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Foreign workers’ average pay below lowest of locals’

The average annual salary of foreign workers in Korea came in far below that of the lowest 10 percent local workers, reflecting the group’s concentrated engagement in poorly paid jobs.

An analysis by the National Tax Services said a total of 344,583 foreign workers earned 4.54 trillion won ($3.75 billion) in 2008. It was an 18.7 percent increase from the figure in 2007 but fell short of the population jump of 22.2 percent over the year. Foreign workers who filed for tax returns in 2007 totaled 282,640.

The average annual salary of the group was 13.17 million won in 2008, 1.43 million won less than that of the lowest 10 percent local workers. Foreign workers in 2008 earned 2.9 percent less on average than they did in 2007.

Earnings differed by regions.

Foreigners in Seoul earned the highest annual salary with 33.37 million won on average in 2008, which stood close to the average annual pay of local workers, 38.2 million won. Foreign workers elsewhere, however, were mostly poorly paid, especially in South Jeolla Province, where the annual average barely reached 7 million won. The figure in Gwangju and Jeju were 8.31 million won and 8.5 million won respectively.

Foreigners who earned more than 80 million won per year totaled 4,249 in 2008 with the average topping 270 million won. 

By Cynthia J. Kim  (