I've recently been talking with people about the rising minimum wage in Korea and colloquially heard them refer to it as 최저시급.

I looked this phrase up in the dictionary, however, and couldn't find it, but I did find 최저임금.

Is there a difference between the two? Can they be used interchangeably?

Edit: Changed 시금 to 시급 based on a helpful comment.

  • 1
    Are you sure it's not 최저시급 that you've heard? 시급 is another word for hourly wages
    – gaeguri
    Aug 23, 2018 at 6:05
  • @gaeguri Not sure. That was probably it! Thank you.
    – vievievie
    Aug 23, 2018 at 6:06
  • Although if I search naver.com for 최저시금, I get a few hits - but my guess is that people are mistakenly combining 임금 and 시급.
    – gaeguri
    Aug 23, 2018 at 6:08

1 Answer 1


임금 means 'pay'. It includes all kinds of income; annual pay, monthly pay, weekly wage, daily wage and hourly wage. 시급 only means hourly wage.

Thus, 최저임금 means minimum wage and 최저시급 means minimum hourly wage. However, 최저임금 and 최저시급 are used much in the same sense.

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    Also worth noting that the "Minimum Wage Committee" in South Korea currently determines the minimum hourly wage. For example, the minimum wage of 2019 was determined to be 8350 Won/hr, increasing 10.9% from 7530 Won/hr this year. So, when people talk about, e.g., "최저임금 1만원 시대", they're talking about minimum wage per hour (i.e., 최저시급). Example news article: biz.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2018/07/14/2018071400247.html
    – jick
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:27

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