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Inequality in the WorkplaceLabor Market Reform in Japan and Korea$
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Jiyeoun Song

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452154

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452154.001.0001

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Korea: Liberalization for All, Except for Chaebŏl Workers

Korea: Liberalization for All, Except for Chaebŏl Workers

(p.119) 5 Korea: Liberalization for All, Except for Chaebŏl Workers
Inequality in the Workplace

Jiyeoun Song

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes how the small proportion of the workforce covered by employment protection—as well as decentralized industrial relations based on large chaebŏl unions—have shaped the political dynamics of Korea's labor market reform over the past two decades. Under the conditions of less institutional practices of employment protection covering a small segment of the workforce, Korea's employers and policy makers promoted comprehensive labor market reform for all workers in times of economic crisis—contrary to their Japanese counterparts. Meanwhile, insiders endeavored to secure their high level of employment protection in the face of labor market reform, but with no political allies to support them. This comprehensive labor market reform resulted in the reinforcement of inequality and dualism between insiders.

Keywords:   employment protections, large chaebŏl unions, Korean labor market reform, comprehensive labor market reform, labor market inequality, dualistic labor market

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