By Jun Ji-hye
Samsung Electronics' recent decision to pay its employees up to 500 percent of their basic monthly wage as a year-end special bonus appears to have created a sense of deprivation among some salaried workers at other companies.
The electronics giant also decided to extend its incentives granted to 89 partners in the memory chip business, saying it will provide them with 4.32 billion won ($3.9 million).
Even though the latest news seems to have given the tech giant positive publicity, following the criticism over its head's alleged ties with the corruption scandal of impeached former President Park Geun-hye, this has caused mixed feelings among workers at other companies.
Some say they are jealous of their counterparts at Samsung Electronics, while others feel all the more deprived amid stagnant wage growth and soaring consumer prices.
"I was surprised with the news about Samsung's special bonuses as I thought receiving such generous rewards would be almost impossible even if one works for a conglomerate," said an office worker in Euljiro, central Seoul, asking not to be named. "To be honest, I feel a great distance between myself and Samsung workers."
In 2017, the tech giant gave bonuses to employees of the semiconductor division that made remarkable achievements, but this year, the company will extend the special year-end bonuses to employees of other divisions such as household appliances and smartphones.
The firm plans to pay 500 percent of base salaries to employees of the semiconductor division and 100 percent of base salaries to employees of household appliances and smartphones divisions.
If a base salary of an employee of the memory chip division is 2 million won per month, he will receive 10 million won as a bonus this time.
Another office worker on Yeouido said, "I felt deprived when I heard about Samsung's bonus plan. And at the same time, it seems like the company is desperate to promote its good image to the government and the people after going through criticism over the scandal."
The high-profile corruption scandal involving former President Park and her confidant Choi Soon-sil became public in 2016. Park was eventually removed from office in March 2017 after the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment by the National Assembly.
Amid the whirlwind scandal, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was imprisoned for around a year after being found guilty of paying bribes to Park. One of these was through Samsung supporting the equestrian training of Choi's daughter.
Lee was released from prison in February this year after an appeals court changed his sentence to a suspended one.
Meanwhile, an office worker in Yongsan said there seemed to be no need to argue about the right and wrong of Samsung's bonus decision, saying, "It was a decision by a private company, and we are living in a capitalist society."