Special Report


·Wriiten by Ahn Su-chan, Jeon Jong-hwi, Im In-taek, Im Ji-sun
·Genre: Society
·Published in April 2010
·303 pages



Have you ever had a part-time or temporary job? University students get part-time or temporary jobs because they need spending money and tuition money. If we don’t have money, we can’t do what we want like watching movies, eating out, or buying books or clothes. Nowadays a part-time or temporary job can’t provide enough money to live in this society. The money from these jobs may seem large because the salary is paid monthly, but it is not enough to live on for one month. Unfortunately there are people who only work part–time or temporary jobs for their whole lives. These people may be fathers or mothers, young people in their twenties, or foreigners

The authors of Four Thousand Won Life describe these people in four parts: female labor, youth labor, immigrant labor and dispatch labor. The authors talked to different workers and experienced their lives so that their reporting would be accurate and vivid. Also they lied about their careers so they could experience what the workers do. Each author researched and wrote one part, and then the parts were published together as a book.

The first story is about female labor. This part shows women about 40 to 50-years-old and the difficult work they do. They usually work in restaurants and then go home to do all the housework.

The second story is youth labor. This part describes young men who work for their dream, like going to a university or getting married. Others just work to save money to live because they are too poor for dreams.

The third story is immigrant labor. This part talks about foreigners who come from other countries looking for the “Korean dream”, but can’t go to the hospital because they are illegal immigrants. Additionally they can’t go out in the afternoon, so they lock the door at work to prevent their arrest and deportation.

The fourth story is dispatch labor. The people in this part submit their resume to a workforce company and that company finds them temporary work, usually in factories. These workers work for the workforce company not the company where they actually do the work. There is no consideration for the workers. They are just like machines.

This book talks about several different kinds of workers. These four parts describe similar situations: workers get little or no consideration and they don’t get minimum wage. When I read this book, suddenly I got angry. I thought, “Why don’t these workers complain?” But think again; these people can’t get angry. They aren’t working for spending money. They are working to survive. They don’t have any power, so employers can pay them low wages. They can’t protest because they will lose their jobs. This book is about poor workers, but anyone who has had a job like them can easily understand their situation.