Korea’s sampo generation

Sofie to Korea

When living in Korea, you often hear particularly younger people talk about Korea as Hell Joseon, (Joseon being the old name for Korea). Hell Joseon symbolizes the inhumane competition and pressure that many young people are facing during their school years and when searching for a job.

Aside from describing the difficulties in getting employment even after graduating from the best universities in the country, the term also covers the hardships that many of those, who do manage to find a job will face in the workplace due to Korea’s strict confucian culture. Young people and new graduates are often being underpaid, or even forced to work overtime with no overtime payment. I’ve heard several of my friends discuss the term “열정 페이” (yeoljeong pay, literally meaning “passion pay”), when describing how firms can underpay graduates and interns by using the “benefit of learning on the job” and “building…

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