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Economic crisis from pandemic hits lower income households hardest, widening the wealth gap Updated: 2021-05-11 09:55:52 KST

The economic impact of the coronavirus hasn't fallen on everybody equally. Certain groups, like the self-employed and those on low-incomes have suffered more than others.

"This used to be one of the busiest streets in Seoul before the pandemic struck. But now, as you can see behind me business is quiet and a lot of the shops have closed."

A woman who runs a flower shop in this area, near Ewha Women's University, says so many shops have shut down this past year that she can't even name them all.

"I opened my shop on December 14th 2019, and the pandemic struck about two weeks later. All the shops were open then. But in the space of a year, around 30 shops have closed.
30 SHOPS just around my flower shop right here. Running a business here has been REALLY REALLY tough."

The Bank of Korea says this has caused the gap between the rich and the poor to widen.
According to a report by the central bank on Monday, the income of households in the bottom 20-percent income bracket fell by more than 17-percent whereas the top 20-percent only saw a decrease of 1.5 percent.
It said this is largely due to the large numbers of self-employed and working mothers in this income group, adding that the self-employed have seen their income fall by almost 30 percent since the outbreak.
President Moon addressed the growing inequality in his speech on Monday.

"While the direct and indirect damage from COVID-19 is grave, the social and economic changes brought by the pandemic have led some industries and companies to thrive, and others to lag behind. We will work to ease the difficulties of small business owners, the self-employed, and businesses that have been hit hard by the coronavirus."

He added that the government will ensure an 'employment safety net' that will increase the number of those eligible for employment insurance, and provide a better employment support program.
Bae Eun-ji, Arirang News.
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