Thursday, June 23, 2016

Media Appearance: "South Korea's labor reforms come up against social convention" on Nikkei Asian Review

Your humble blogger made the news:

President Park Geun-hye said deregulating the labor market would eliminate these inefficiencies. Economists, too, said deregulation would help the country reduce its dependence on exports that rely heavily on the increasingly troubled Chinese economy.  
Park's reforms would make it easier to sack permanent workers, which would reduce the risk for employers in making new hires. She also wants to shorten regular work hours to increase overtime pay and promote the hiring of part-time staff.

. . .  
Chef Yoo said the traditional idea that one should stay in a particular job was what partly prompted his move to Australia. In Seoul, he was rejected by restaurant owners many times for being "too old" after he decided to switch to cooking from his previous job in the fashion industry.  
Such social beliefs could make it difficult, but not impossible, to introduce labor market reforms. "It's a matter of speed, not direction," said S. Nathan Park, a Washington-based lawyer specializing in South Korea's trade issues. 
South Korea's labor reforms come up against social convention [Nikkei Asian Review]

Korean labor reform is a thorny issue. In theory, both the conservatives and the progressives agree that further liberalization of the labor market is necessary. But in a down market, workers do not take kindly to the idea that their employment could be more in jeopardy. Although labor market deregulation would likely lead to more jobs, the (legitimate) criticism is that the quality of such "irregular jobs" is erratic and can be exploitative. At any rate, I believe that the deregulation is inevitable--it is only a matter of time.

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