South Korean employment impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

Financial pressures are forcing Koreans to take on a second job, but even such plans are being thwarted by the pandemic.
By: | December 18, 2020

Although the pressure to cop a second source of income is high, finding it increasingly proving to be hard due to COVID-19. 

The number of people moonlighting peaked in 2019 at 470,000, dropping to 430,000 in the first nine of this year, accounting for just 1.6% of those employed, according to the opposition People Power Party member Choo Kyung-ho’s office, which compiled Statistics Korea’s data.  

Effectively, “that means there isn’t even a place to moonlight [even if they wanted to],” said Choo, a lawmaker who was former vice-finance minister. 

Kim Chan-su is a case in point. An “N-jobler” – a person who holds multiple jobs, he works as a circus clown and food deliveryman. When COVID hit, his circus gigs were put on hold, and he now spends most of his waking hours in his car waiting for his next delivery of fried chicken. 

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For Lee Heeju, when an international group cancelled a job offer due to the pandemic, she started taking classes that led to her second job. She now spends one to two hours every day writing short e-books on tips to buy a house for young couples for which she charges 12,000 won (US$11). The money she makes from this is only enough “to buy snacks” for her daughter. Even so, competition is fierce as many others are also doing the same, according to Bloomberg.