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7 out of 10 Koreans say ‘social polarization is serious’

7 out of 10 Koreans say ‘social polarization is serious’

Posted October. 31, 2013 02:56,   


Seven out of 10 Koreans believe social polarization in Korean society is serious, a survey showed. On the question about the level of social polarization in Korean society, 71.1 percent replied it is fairly serious. When asked to assess the income level of their households for the possible top score of 10 points, the respondents replied their income level stood at 4.46 points, lower than the average of 5 points. This suggests that majority of Koreans think that their living standards are below the average level.

When compared with the year 2012, Koreans are found to have some improved perception toward the economic change and livelihoods. Above all, the public’s negative perceptions toward the Korean economy have declined from last year. The ratio of people who replied the Korean economy worsened for the previous year amounted to 68.5 percent in 2012, but the ratio stood at 48.8 percent this year, down 19.7 percent year-on-year. People who replied that their income or livelihoods worsened also declined from 47.3 percent in 2012 to 32.3 percent in 2013. This indicates that the economic situation as perceived by the public has improved from last year.

The portion of respondents who replied they are satisfied with their life has been slowly rising from 59.4 percent in 2011, 66.1 percent in 2012, and 71.9 percent in 2013. The level of satisfaction for their life is closely related to their income levels as well, the survey showed. As many as 86.7 percent of respondents who replied they earn 6 million won (5,660 U.S. dollars) or more in monthly income said they are satisfied with their life, but only 57.8 percent of those who replied they earn 1 million won (940 dollars) or less said they are satisfied.

Asked why they think the rich became rich, 51.3 percent of the respondents said, “Because their parents are better off,” accounting for the biggest portion. Of the respondents, 31.2 percent replied, “Because (those who are rich) worked harder.” On the reason why the poor are poor, 53.1 percent of the respondents answered, “That is because they did not work harder,” and 27.2 percent replied, “Because their parents were poor.” Some 60.3 percent of Koreans believe that one who works hard can elevate their social status. Majority of respondents said climbing up the social class levels through efforts is possible until today. Also, 75.3 percent of the respondents expect their children’s life will be better than their own, the survey found.

“Koreans tend to attribute the method of wealth accumulation to structural aspect, and on the reason why they failed to overcome poverty to personal aspect,” said Woo Jeong-yeop, a senior researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, in analyzing the survey results. “This is compatible with the fact that majority of Koreans believe they can elevate their social class levels through hardworking, and this is a positive indicator in that people believe Korea is a country where they have a chance to succeed through efforts.”