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ON POINT: Expert's take on widening wealth gap in S. Korea Updated: 2021-12-08 05:46:20 KST

Now it’s time for On Point, where we speak to experts to delve deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
Consumer prices in South Korea last month spiked by a whopping three.seven point percent.
For context, that’s a high not seen here in nearly a decade.
The price of food, utilities, public services and oil have all surged in recent months and prices show little sign of slowing down any time soon.
Making matters worse, salaries are not keeping pace with inflation and many studies have shown the government’s COVID-related financial support has not eased the financial worries of many households.
Also, as more people aren’t opening their wallets as much, less money is flowing into the economy, making its vicious cycle.
For more, we connect to Professor Oh Joon-seok from Sookmyung Women's University's School of Business.
Professor, how concerned are you about the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in South Korea? And what, if anything, can be done to remedy it?

The vast majority of businesses hardest hit by virus restrictions in South Korea are small mom-and-pop stores, do you think the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's reaction to it has made this issue of health inequity even more acute?

Another factor stifling social mobility in South Korea is real estate and the constantly rising housing prices. Many young South Koreans have given up hope of ever owning their own home. Apart from the economic impact of that, what are the social and demographic ripple effects? For example, most Koreans want to own their own home before they get married and start a family…

Finally, some have argued it’s high time for South Korea to introduce some kind of basic income system - a guaranteed source of money from the government to help people who’ve been laid off or are too sick to work. What’s your stance on introducing universal basic income or UBI in South Korea?

We appreciate your insights as always. Professor Oh, thank you.
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