Women of Samsung Walk Out — National Strike for Equal Pay Hits Korea

Mike Kim
Mike Kim
Aug 9, 2016 · 7 min read

After decades of wage discrimination and unequal treatment, the female employees of Samsung staged the largest walk out the company and country has ever seen in protest.

Early this morning female employees of Samsung streamed out of the main entrance of the conglomerate’s HQ as a unified front.

Nearly 30,000 strong, the women discarded their employee badges on the floor of the main lobby chanting, “Together We Are One, Without Us Nothing!”

The world’s largest technology company ground to a halt due to the powerful protest, denouncing the systematic wage discrepancy between male and female employees. Samsung stock has plummeted more than 20% since opening bell.

South Korean women suffer the worst wage gap among all OECD countries; currently at a staggering 40%. The figure is 2.5 times higher than the OECD average of 15.8 percent and considerably larger than the ’United States’ gap of 18 percent.

Samsung officials are scrambling; completely caught off guard by the strength of the female employee base and finally coming to terms that every facet of the company requires a female to operate without issue.

“It’s a national tragedy to treat the female employees of Korea this way. There’s absolutely no reason why any of us should be paid 40% less than our male counterparts,” stated Kim YuJeong, an analyst for the company.

Nearly every single female employee from Samsung HQ has vacated their office, leaving the company utterly inoperable. Senior Executives could not be reached and global offices have also begun to shut down.

Fellow female employees located in global offices have also stated they will join the protest to bring solidarity to this crucial issue of equality in the workplace.

With 30,000 strong, the female base has taken the upper hand in negotiations and have made clear that they will not return until all female employees’ salaries are matched with their male counterparts and 3 female members are added to the Board of Directors ( currently there are none. )

In addition to the above demands, the coalition has made a revolutionary ask to the Korean Government; National Equal Pay Legislation. Without which, no employee will return.

The protest has sparked a much needed national conversation and brought to light the immense wage disparity affecting Korea.

With Samsung owning nearly 25% of the Nation’s GDP, today’s incredible walk out has put Korea into paralysis. The women of Korea have had enough, and the protest has taken on the responsibility of righting a historic wrong for women across the nation.

As advanced as Korea is, the country’s history of equality towards women in the workplace is disturbing.

This is sadly not a joke..

With a population of roughly 51 million, a little over 50% are female.

Yet, Korea has a shocking lack of female CEO’s with only 13; 9 of which are due to family lineage not merit.

Further, of all the senior executives in Korea, only a paltry 1.5% are female. A symbol of systematic gender prejudice that permeates nearly every professional field in South Korea.

This staggering lack of females in management positions is not by happen chance, but rather a continuous and conscience degradation of women in the Korean corporate world.

Yonsei University Economics Professor, Shin JinHo, stated that Samsung has no choice but to accommodate the demands of their female employee base.

Firing all of them is simply unfeasible, and would highlight even further to a global audience, Samsung and Korea’s weak record of equality for women. Further, the HR department, heavily operated by female employees, have made clear that filling the gap of 30,000 employees would take at minimum 8–10 months, leaving the company inoperable for nearly a year.

“Samsung can either fire those who have walked out, or swallow their pride and do what should have been done years ago; treat their employees with equal respect and pay.”- Shin JinHo

Female employees of Samsung have also strongly stated that they will hold the line so no female can enter HQ until all demands are met.

The leaders of the strike have also added that this strike is not solely a Samsung issue, but one that will hopefully inspire women across the Nation to stand up and join the fight for National Equal Pay Reform.

While some are condemning the protest as it has already begun to effect small and medium business throughout the country, they have also recognized the importance of this movement.

Kim Inhuyk, owner of a local restaurant that serves Samsung employees daily said today:

“While this has inconvenienced my business, I think of my daughter at this time, and stand with the women of Samsung. I hope my little girl will one day live in a Korea that treats all their citizens equally.”

By under-utilizing women, The Korean Women’s Development Institute estimates that Korea squanders more than $13 billion annually in lost output.

The strike has drawn national attention to not only the glaring discrepancy in wages, but the economic impact of failing to recognize the power of Korean women.


With an international audience now actively watching, will Korea bend towards the light of gender equality and close the immense wage gap, or continue to remain in a misogynistic abyss of ignorance?

Let us hope, the women Rise. And so too, does Korea.

The brave women of Korea serving the National Military.

I Hope..

The strike above is purely fictional as well as the characters and quotes.

Sadly, the statistics on the gender wage gap and women in management are 100% true.

I wrote this post not in hopes of taking down a corporate giant, but instead to suggest what could be if we, as a nation, rallied behind the women of Samsung and Korea, to fight for what is rightly theirs; equality.

The last thing I want is for Samsung to fail; it’s been integral to the success of modern Korea. The Korea I reside in and love.

My greatest hope is that this country continues to prosper and in doing so, treats it’s women with the respect and decency they deserve.

Yet, Korea has the largest gender wage gap among all OECD Nations, and according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012, the ratio of women to men in upper management positions is a meager 1 to 9.

At 104th, Korea ranks below some of the world’s least developed countries, such as Burkina Faso, Malawi and Syria..

We can do better.


I have no doubt, and believe wholeheartedly, that if we organize such a strike, we can incite a tidal wave bent on washing away the ridiculous notion that women are inferior to men, and pave the way for future generations to thrive; equally.

If not now, when?

Do we push this burden onto our children, and generations to come, so they can grow up in a country where inequality is tolerated?

A country where they will be valued less than their counterparts due to their gender?

We must fight to provide the next generation a better tomorrow.

What example do we set when we choose to stay in the shadows of what we know to be morally wrong, but resist action in order to appease a corrupt status quo?

Our children and grand children deserve to prosper in a Korea that is better than it is now. That has always been our country’s narrative; generation after generation fighting for a better tomorrow.

Therefore, when we sit on the sidelines of a humans rights crisis, our very inaction is condoning this insufferable wrong.

When we decry the horrors Korean women suffered as ‘comfort women’ during the heinous colonization of this country by Japan, but stay silent in their fight to attain equality from their own people (minjok), we negate the very jeong that makes us one.

Being a woman in Korea, or anywhere, should never equate to a lower wage.

And neither should it equate to being valued less than a man. Ever.


Lastly, to the men of Korea. May you recognize that this is as much your fight as it is for the women of Korea. We are, and forever will be, one people.

Therefore, when we fail to act on behalf of half of our nation, we fall as one.

“Together We Are One, Without Us Nothing!”

Indeed.

Equal pay for equal work. Korea, it’s time.

Let the strike begin.

#HopeBeyondReason

Mike Kim

Written by

Mike Kim

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