Credit: Public domain.
The median income for a single person household in South Korea is KRW 23.2m (USD 18.9k) a year, but Koreans’ own definition of “the middle class” vastly outpaces that figure.
Respondents to a survey by Korea Economic Daily 한국경제신문, conducted in February, said a middle class, single person household should make KRW 82.3m (USD 67k) a year. The threshold became higher from the last time the same survey was conducted in 2020, where the same figure was KRW 74m (USD 60.2k) a year.
The higher perceived threshold for middle class status also meant fewer people considered themselves as middle class: 53.7% said they were middle class, down 3.8% from 2020, while 45.6% said they were lower class, up 4.1% from 2020. Only 0.7% considered themselves as upper class.
On the other hand, based on the OECD standard for middle class (namely, the range of 75% to 200% from the median income) 66.8% of the surveyed sample would fall into the middle class, while 17% would qualify as upper class.