New research shows the pandemic has hit female employment hardest.
The Korea Development Institute says that, in March last year, the number of female workers aged 25 to 54 in South Korea dropped by 541-thousand from the previous month.
That's around 1.7 times larger than the 327-thousand job losses suffered by male workers during the same period.
The gender gap largely comes as the service sector, which has a high proportion of female workers, took the biggest hit.
Taking a look at the employment rate during the pandemic by gender and marriage status the trend is clear married women saw huge job losses during the early stages of the pandemic while single women saw job losses later on.
And this makes the current crisis distinct from the previous economic crises like Asian Financial Crisis where men are normally more vulnerable to job losses.
"During the first wave of infections in March 2020, the education service, food and accommodation, and social service sectors saw the largest drops in employment rate. In January 2020, 38 percent of female employees worked in these industries compared to 13 percent of males."
Another contributor to the gap comes from school shutdowns, which forced some women to leave their jobs so they could look after their children.
With women being more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 in the job market, the researcher suggests that social support is needed to alleviate such a gender gap.
"To prevent women from being deprived of opportunities to participate in economic activities, social support for taking care of children is needed."
This includes extended support covering families with not only kindergarteners but also elementary school children.
Also, she advised that for job seekers, education should be enhanced to help them adapt to the rapidly expanding digital environment amid the pandemic.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News.