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May 29, 2017

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Korean youth endure jobless blues

SEOUL--Key economic indicators seem to point toward Korea making a solid recovery.

The country's output has been growing thanks to exports. Its consumer spending has picked up on the back of growing welfare financing by the government.

Still, Asia's fourth-largest economy is finding it hard to create jobs for college graduates, even while they pull all-nighters at libraries to pass conglomerates' corporate entrance exams.

Korea's youth joblessness, which passed 10 percent in February, has become a bigger problem than the rapidly aging population.

The country's overall employment rate of over 64 percent is on par with the OECD average. But for those aged 15 to 29, the employment rate is barely above 40 percent. Analysts say the figure is odd, given that overall job figures have been increasing.

Several factors contribute to Korea's increasing youth unemployment, such as Korean men's mandatory military service forcing them to delay job hunting and the lack of career opportunities for young women.

But the underlying problem is a surplus of overeducated young people with very little practical experience who seek a limited number of jobs offered by leading conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai Motor, which account for more than half of the country's job growth.

Considering the amount of time and money the young spend on their education, they and their parents want their investments to pay off by securing a stable job at a conglomerate.

And having graduated with higher degrees, most of them have high standards, refusing to even submit their resumes to small and medium enterprises that are in dire need of human capital but cannot meet the young job hunters' expectations.

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