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Published : 2013-01-01 20:34
Updated : 2013-01-01 20:34

If the defining phrase of the 5060 generation is the “baby boomer generation,” then that of the 2030 generation is the “880,000 won ($820) generation.”

First coined in 2007 by an economist and a civic activist as the title of a book about the crisis facing the young generation, the phrase refers to the average monthly income a typical member of the 2030 generation working at a temporary job can expect to take home.

The amount is calculated by multiplying the average monthly wage of temporary workers, 1.19 million won, by 0.73, the average comparative wage level of those in their 20s.

“Among those in their 20s now, only the top 5 percent will be able to work at a stable office job that is above level five, and the rest will work at temporary jobs earning an average wage of 0.88 million won,” said Woo Seok-hoon, the economist and co-author.

The 20-somethings are also the first generation to be part of the winner-take-all system that characterizes today’s hypercompetitive society, according to Woo.

Economic polarization is especially felt on the college campus, as many take to the streets demanding tuition be cut in half, while the privileged few take overseas trips to hone their English skills.

The phrase also captures the sense of growing disillusionment that the young generation feels in a growth-oriented society.

“The 2030 generation is the generation that painfully learned that there is not much in store for them despite growth (in economy),” said Cho Seong-joo, who heads a coalition of people in their 20s and 30s advocating economic democratization.

“The 5060 generation saw the fruits of their labor with their own eyes. But the 2030 generation did not get to taste the fruits of (economic) growth.” Cho says that this sense of despair makes the 2030 generation more sensitive to income distribution and welfare.

“They did not get to live through a time when everything was on a growth spurt,” said Cho.

By Samuel Songhoon Lee (songhoon@heraldcorp.com)

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