Abstract

Korea is a country with extremely long working hours and severe gender inequality in the labor market. Based on twenty-nine in-depth interviews with Korean women care workers, this study investigates key mechanisms that reproduce unpaid and unrecognized shadow labor in paid care services. Accordingly, it argues that the presumption that it is mostly Korean men who suffer from working long hours is incorrect. Women workers work long hours, and they often do so without compensation for overtime. They also engage in labor that is not included in their original job description. The Korean labor market supplies an unlimited number of women for cheap labor in the care service sector, meaning the government can depend heavily on private organizations and businesses to meet increasing care needs among the population. Because women care workers could not specify an employer who is responsible for their wages and working conditions, they could not see themselves as employees with basic labor rights. Instead, they take the familiar roles of dutiful daughters and caring mothers, consenting to the very situation that makes them susceptible to severe wage penalties and unrecognized and unappreciated long working hours.

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