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Korea sees huge drop in employment in manufacturing industry


South Korea’s manufacturing industry saw a huge drop in the number of employed in recent years mainly due to the companies’ contracted local investment and restructuring among shipbuilding and auto making companies, data showed Monday. 

According to the Federation of Korean Industries, the number of employed in the manufacturing industry dropped by 180,000 in 2019 from the corresponding figure in 2015. Such figures are tantamount to the combined number of employees at Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor Group as of 2020. 

Over the same period, other countries also heavily dependent on manufacturing-driven industrial growth such as Japan, Germany and US saw the number of employed in the manufacturing sector inch up by some 3 percent or at least 250,000 people. 

South Korea’s market share in the global manufacturing market has also shrunk. 

It dropped by 0.2 percentage points from 3.2 percent in 2015 to 3 percent in 2019, placing the country in the sixth slot after India. 

Over the same period, countries like China and India saw 2.1 and 0.4 percentage point growth in their market shares, respectively. US and Germany saw 0.6 and 0.3 percentage point reductions, respectively, while Japan saw no change. 

FKI said South Korea’s downturn in the number of employment in the manufacturing industry can be attributed to the companies’ contracted investment in new facilities and restructuring in the shipbuilding and auto industry. 

“With worsening market conditions for local manufacturing industries to invest, more companies are investing in overseas in terms of building facilities. The government should improve the environment for the manufacturing industry to develop the core technology as well as to boost local investment,” said Kim Bong-man, head of the FKI’s international division. 

According to FKI, countries like the US has laid out legal measures to bolster the country’s manufacturing competitiveness through establishment of recuperative powers for supply chain since 2010. 

Japan and Germany have also constantly offered reshoring measures to the market for job creation in the manufacturing sector since 2008, FKI added.

By Kim Da-sol (
Korea Herald Youtube