The Korea Herald


One in 10 Korean nationals work in large companies

Samsung Electronics is the largest employer with 124,000 workers, followed by Hyundai Motor, Kia

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Jan. 22, 2024 - 16:07

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A Samsung flag flies outside the Samsung office in Seoul, South Korea, in this file picture. (Getty Image) A Samsung flag flies outside the Samsung office in Seoul, South Korea, in this file picture. (Getty Image)

More people work at large companies in South Korea, with the number of people employed by conglomerates reaching a record high last year.

According to recent data from the Korean Statistical Information Service, the number of people working at companies with over 300 employees reached an all-time high of 3,087,000 last year. This is the first time that the figure reached the 3 million milestone since the statistics agency started compiling such data in 2004.

The ratio of people working at large companies --10.9 percent out of the total 28.4 million people employed in South Korea last year -- was also a historic high, the KOSIS data further showed.

The number of workers at large companies has been on the rise since 2018, with the increase more notable during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to KOSIS, the number of employees at conglomerates larger than 300 employees here surged by 143,000 in 2021 and further increased by 182,000 during the next year. In 2020, when the pandemic first broke out, the overall number of employees in Korea dropped for the first time since 2009, yet some 79,000 more people were hired by big firms compared to the previous year.

In 2023, the number of people working at conglomerates with over 300 people rose by 89,000 on-year.

The biggest employer was Samsung Electronics, the nation's No. 1 company by market capitalization, which had 124,070 employees under its roof as of June 2023, according to the company's latest semi-annual report on the Financial Supervisory Service's electronic disclosure board, Dart.

Samsung Electronics saw its personnel increase by 5.2 percent from the previous year and by 18.1 percent from the end of June 2019, before the pandemic.

Hyundai Motor Company came in second, with some 71,520 employed as of last June, up by 847 in 2022 and by over 2,200 in each of the previous four years.

Among the other large corporate juggernauts in Korea, Kia's total number of employees as of June 2023 was at 35,438; while LG Electronics had 34,198; SK hynix had 32,217; Korean Air had 17,839; LG Chem had 14,821; Samsung SDI had 12,161; LG Energy Solution had 11,793; and Hyundai Mobis had 11,754.

Meanwhile, the total number of employees in Korea hit a record high of 28.41 million last year.

Just as at the large conglomerates, small and medium-sized firms also hired the highest number of people in history last year, with almost 25.33 million people working at companies with less than 300 employees. However, the proportion of SME workers among the total number of employees nationwide fell to an all-time low of 89.1 percent in 2023.