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[Opinion] Quasi Unemployed People

Posted January. 24, 2008 08:52,   


An unemployed person refers to someone who works 15 hours or less a week. Korea’s unemployment rate is 3.2 percent, which accounts for 780,000 people. The figure is relatively low compared to that of Europe where the unemployment rate is about 10 percent. However, it is hard to believe that Korea has such a low unemployment rate since there are too many jobless people around us. But the secret was solved. According to the National Statistical Office, among the 14.95 million economically active people, those who can be hired but do not seek employment is 2.08 million. The number is three times higher than that of the official unemployment figure.

They are, however, different from other unemployed people or housewives since they do not look for a job nor help house chores. They are also reluctant to take part-time jobs. However, they have both capabilities and wiliness to join the workforce if they are offered a job that suits their taste. Simply put, they are jobless because they cannot find a job that lives up to their expectations. Most of them receive financial assistance from economically active family members or relatives or rely on the money they earned before.

A similar type of the unemployed is called the Dankai Junior Generation in Japan. The term refers to people born between 1971 and 1974 and they are often described as belonging to a generation with sufficient academic and vocational skills but without motivation to work or succeed. The difference between the two groups of the unemployed is that this type of the jobless people has emerged in Korea largely due to the imbalance of demand and supply in the labor market, whereas, in Japan, it is a social phenomenon created by a generation which has totally different values on life and work.

This type of the unemployed cannot even earn sympathy. They are mostly likely considered an eyesore and simply not desperate enough to find a job. The fundamental reason for the prevalence of this type of unemployment is in the lack of descent jobs that well-educated people want. Quasi-unemployed people cause double waste as they destroy their capabilities, qualifications and experience and distort efficient human resources distribution in society. The solution must come from both sides. Many good jobs should be made by creating a business friendly environment, while quasi-unemployed people should also lower their standards and make efforts to adapt to the changing society and corporate cultures.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee, shchung@donga.com