Sophomore, English Language and Literature, Sooa Park
I am in favor of the minimum wage raise. People have a right to live like a human being. That is why the nation has adopted a minimum wage system to ensure the decent livelihood of its workers. The government now publishes statistics and the results of studies on the cost of living in Korea. If the current wage levels fall short of the minimum cost of living, I think we should definitely raise the minimum wage.
With respect to those opposing the raise in the minimum wage, they claim that if the government increases the minimum wage, there will be fewer new jobs because employers will have to shoulder the costs of hiring workers. However, studies have shown that a minimum wage increase could actually lead to an increase in employment. For example, in Germany, which raised its minimum hourly wage to 10,000 won last year, there has been an increase in consumption, which has led to an increase in employment. The same is true of the United States and Japan.
I also think that if the minimum wage is increased, it could boost the economy. The government tries to revive the depressed economy through consumption. Therefore, if they guarantee a decent worker's income, consumption will grow. Also, in addition to economic revival, I think an increase in consumption will lead to job creation, giving rise to a virtuous circle.
Sophomore, Department of English Language and Literature, Juhyun Cha
In recent days, the pros and cons of introducing a new minimum wage level in Korea has been hotly debated. This is because the gap between this year’s minimum wage and last year’s minimum wage is very noticeable. The Minimum Wage Commission’s chart shows that the rate of increase was the highest so far in 16 years. This big difference seems to have greatly divided people’s opinions. As for me, I think positively about raising the minimum wage. There are two reasons for this.
My first reason is related to the revitalization of the economy. Due to the raise in the minimum wage, working people will spend more because their living standards will improve thanks to increases in their incomes. As a result, companies will hire more employees to increase the supply of goods. Therefore, opportunities for employment will increase. This is the most ideal economic virtuous circle. Companies should not exploit laborers nor pay them low wages to make high profits. When companies cut personnel expenses, this results in only temporary gains and is not helpful in the long run. It is better to stabilize workers' lives, improve morale and improve labor productivity by legitimately paying decent wages.
After experiencing a currency crisis, and an economic crisis, the middle class has collapsed, and the problem of economic polarization is increasing. There are far more people in the low-income group; they are the majority leading our society. The fact that the polarization of income leads quickly to social disintegrationis a well-known fact. By reducing differences in wages, such a distinction as that between a high and a low job will disappear and there will be more equality in society. As a result, rather than only a few specific occupations being respected, the idea that all occupations are important will widely spread throughout society as a whole.
It is true that prices have risen since the minimum wage was increased. However, even if minimum wage increases stop, this does not mean that inflation will stop too. Increases in prices are inevitable. Some people argue that raising the minimum wage leads to a reduction in employment. However, as the number of simple labor jobs decreases, there is the possibility that other valuable professional work will replace lost positions. All in all, I claim that now is the time for us to think about how this big change will affect us positively in the long term.
Sophomore, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Jinwoo Lee
Before arguing about the minimum wage, let’s consider what the minimum wage is. The minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage permitted by law. Why do we need a minimum wage? The concept of a minimum wage basically stems from the idea that firms have a responsibility to ensure that their workers earn enough to live on. The expression “Enough to live on” is comprehended quite differently depending on where you live. People who live in a country with higher consumer prices obviously need more money to keep one’s head above water. That is why the minimum wage varies from country to country.
Recently, the minimum wage in Korea rose from 6,470 won to 7,530 won, which was perfectly reasonable. Consumer prices are rising every day. 10,000 won today had relatively much more value ten years ago. So, it is absurd to earn the same amount of money while everything else is getting more and more expensive. But there are people out there who think it is necessary to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won. My friends, be careful what you wish for.
Just looking at the surface. It may seem like increments in the minimum wage can only bring peace and joy to the world. But there is a catch. Most employers are not big shots who own multi-million-dollar businesses. In fact, they are just the same as old lower middle-class people, who can barely afford luxuries. A rise in the minimum wage forces them to increase the price of the goods they are selling, which results in overall inflation. We can easily spot this in our daily lives. Not only are small businesses like local restaurants increasing their prices, but conglomerates like Lotteria and Nongshim are also increasing their prices. What is the point in increasing salaries when everything else also becomes more expensive?
When having a nice dinner, what do we eat first? Appetizers—maybe a dish of fresh salad to whet your appetite. Eating chocolate syrup on ice cream before everything else may ruin what comes next. Why am I talking about food? Well, changing the minimum wage needs an appetizer of its own. In this case, relevant laws rather than vegetables are needed. Without certain restrictions, enterprises will find a way to earn as much profit as possible, even if this includes reducing their workforce. The rise in the minimum wage happened without appropriate preparation, so it is bound to produce side effects. There would have been a better outcome if only the government had started with a proper appetizer.
Sophomore, Department of English Language and Literature, Ei-ji Im
The minimum wage in Korea has been rising every year. Currently, the minimum wage in 2018 is 7,530 won an hour. Furthermore, the government has promised to achieve a minimum wage of 10,000 won by 2022. However, due to the current situation in South Korea, there should not be any further increases in the minimum wage. This is because raising the minimum wage causes a few problems.
First, minimum wage raises will bring about excessive price increases. If the minimum wage goes up, obviously the personnel expenses also increase and, therefore, labor costs become burdensome. Quite naturally, people who run small businesses have to raise the price of goods to cover personnel expenses. Actually, the price of food and daily necessities in convenience stores like CU and GS25 have risen compared to last year.
Second, it will cause an employment problems. Due to the increased minimum wage, working hours have been forcibly shortened by enterprises in order to pay less for labor, and companies are recruiting fewer employees. In fact, some apartment security guards have been forced to take unpaid vacation. Incheon International Airport has also introduced unmanned systems. In this way, rises in the minimum wage result in higher prices, and the phenomenon of fewer working hours, thereby negating any positive effects of a wage increase.
Of course, the government is now preparing a supplemental policy called the "Employment Stable Funding System" to mitigate the negative effects of raising the minimum wage—it is a system created to reduce the management burden of small businesses. However, the national budget needed to implement this system will increase every year. Thus, increasing wages rapidly without considering other factors is not an efficient way to improve people's lives. Therefore, it is not appropriate to raise the minimum wage further.
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