The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] From new IDs to pension boost, changes due in 2020

What's coming up next year

By Kim Arin

Published : Dec. 30, 2019 - 18:09

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The new year sees a wide range of changes across the spectrum of South Koreans’ daily lives. From new passports to salary hikes for military conscripts, here are some of the changes that 2020 will bring. 

Sex offender registry available on mobile

Parents and guardians of minors will be able to view information about registered sex offenders in their districts on their mobile devices. Currently, the information is sent via mail to households with children under 19.

Schools and other institutions for children will continue to be kept posted about the sex offender registry.

Restrictions on sex offender employment will expand to include children’s athletic organizations, international schools, centers for out-of-school children and school lunch facilities.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said the mobile service will kick off in the first half of next year.

More support for working moms

Mothers returning to work after taking leave or quitting their jobs to take care of their children will be provided with career counseling and training for new jobs, according to the Gender Equality Ministry.

More state-run centers will be established to help mothers return to work after having children, for a total of 60 by year-end. There are currently 35 nationwide.

The government budget for post-maternity employment will also increase from 1.97 billion won ($1.7 million) to 2.85 billion won.

Participants in the reemployment program will be eligible to apply for the Small and Medium Business Administration’s entrepreneurship support project, upon the gender minister’s recommendations.


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Elderly beneficiaries of social security to rise

Koreans aged 65 or older in the bottom 40 percent of income distribution will qualify for monthly basic pension benefits of 300,000 won. Only the lower 20 percent income group was previously eligible.

This means the number of senior recipients of the state pension program will rise to 3.25 million in 2020 from this year’s 1.56 million.

The government aims to extend the pension eligibility to the lower 70 percent of the income scale by 2021.

The Welfare Ministry is also expanding job placements and employment training for older workers aged 60 or above. The ministry said it would add about 100,000 jobs for the elderly, raising the number from 640,000 in 2019 to 740,000 next year.

Unemployed youths in Seoul to be paid benefits

Unemployed Koreans aged 19 to 34 whose household income is less than 150 percent of the median will be paid 500,000 won a month without an additional screening process, Seoul City said.

The benefits, which were given only to selected applicants, will be available to anyone who meets the criteria starting next year.

Seoul City is also spending 41 billion won to support young entrepreneurs at 49 college districts around the city.

Minimum wage jumps 2.9 percent to 8,590 won

The minimum wage in 2020 is set to be 8590 won per hour, up 2.9 percent from this year’s.

From Jan. 1, the minimum monthly salary will be 1,795,310 won, up 50,160 won from the current 1,745,150 won, calculated based on legal working hours.

This marks the lowest minimum wage increase rate in the past decade. It also falls short of the Moon Jae-in administration’s goal of raising the minimum hourly wage to 10,000 won by 2020.

Wage raise for soldiers, no more jail time for conscientious objectors

Conscientious objectors will be subject to three years of community service instead of jail time.

Objectors of military conscription for religious or other reasons who pass screening by a committee will serve alternative service at correctional facilities.

The change comes after a long-disputed claim that jailing conscientious objectors was unconstitutional.

The monthly stipend for soldiers will rise by 33 percent to 540,990 won. It is to be raised to half of 2017’s minimum wage by 2022.

New IDs, passports

The resident registration number, issued to all citizens 18 or older, will no longer include regional codes.

The Ministry of Interior and Safety said the digits representing the region of issuance will be replaced by arbitrary numbers in an effort to prevent discrimination against people from certain areas.

But the seventh digit representing the sex of the number’s holder will be kept, the ministry said.

The new numbers will be applied starting October next year.

Korean passports will also get a makeover. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the new passports, made with polycarbonate and laser technology, will be equipped with enhanced security.

The resident registration number will no longer appear on the holder information page.

The passport colors will also change from green to navy for ordinary citizens, and red to gray for government officials. Diplomatic passports will be changed from navy to red.

Legislators brace for infamous child rapist to be on the loose

Bills to better protect children from sexual predators were proposed last month with a notorious child rapist, Cho Doo-soon, expected to be released from prison Dec. 13, 2020.

If enacted, the new bills would include a restraining order that would ban registered child sex offenders from coming within 500 meters of children.

Cho was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the December 2008 rape of an 8-year-old girl, who suffered permanent damage to her genitals and other organs.

Fresh parliament

Major shifts in political landscape are expected with the general election slated for April 15.

Ruling Democratic Party will strive to secure a majority for another four years as the Moon administration enters the second half of its term.

Main opposition Liberty Korea Party has likewise vowed for a conservative majority seat, and has suggested conservative parties form a “unifited conservative front.” 

Choi Si-young contributed to this article. -- Ed.

By Kim Arin (