Gender Disparity in Workforce Participation | Korea 2021

This post is part of my ongoing series of data briefs featuring insights and reporting in Korea.

Korea is confronting a widening gender divide. This is most clearly seen in the economically active population.

Why it matters: When it comes to gender workforce disparity, Korea has continued to focus on female workforce participation in favor of more controversial metrics such as gender pay gap.

Culture is upstream: Numerous cultural factors contribute to the relatively lower female economic participation rate compared to men.

  • Research has shown that Korea’s male-dominated military service culture has entrenched males in positions of leadership.
  • Korean women are expected (and often prefer) to quit their jobs and careers upon getting pregnant.


The following are a series of data visualizations I made using R with ggplot2. I then made them interactive with ggplotly and uploaded them to plotly for embedding.

Feel free to share/use them! I only ask for attribution plus a link back to my site. I’d love to collaborate as well: [email protected]

Note: If you click on the graphs, it will take you to plotly where you can interact/zoom/mouseover each bar to see exact numbers.

Econ Active Population | Korea 2021
Employed Population By Gender | Korea 2021
Unemployed Population By Gender | Korea 2021

Once the data are shown by percentage, you can really see the disparity. As I mentioned above, cultural factors, including many I have not mentioned, contribute to the huge disparity in workforce participation in Korea. I am interested next in pinning these factors down.

Percentage Workfroce Participation By Gender | Korea 2021
Percentage Unemployment By Gender | Korea 2021

Combined with the Unemployed Population By Gender graph above, Jan 2021 experienced a huge increase in female unemployment, which has since moderately recovered. However, I wonder what that factor was.

Percentage Employment By Gender | Korea 2021

This graph also shows the large dip in female unemployment in Jan 2021.

For more articles like this, check out my data briefs page.

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