7: The digital precariat: various Korean platform workers and the new work logic

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This chapter examines the labour status of platform workers in the Korean digital labour market, situated in cell 3 of the theoretical framework, which is characterised by a high level of melting labour but a low level of institutional protection consistency. Melting labour emphasises the ambiguity in determining a worker’s identity or employer, resulting in a legal blind spot regarding workers in new forms of work. The inconsistency of existing institutional protection policies and new forms of work brought about by the digital economy results in various forms of precarious work. Official data and legal definitions of platform work in Korea are presented, and the expansion of the platform labour market into diverse sectors with the advancement of technology and high internet usage rates in Korea is explained. The chapter categorises platform companies and workers and conducts interviews with workers in delivery, housekeeping services and high-skilled freelance platforms, examining their working conditions and experiences with social protection. The aim of this chapter is to shed light on the precariousness and lack of institutional protection experienced by platform workers in Korea. Specifically, it highlights the inconsistency of the social security system in providing coverage and mitigating insecurity for those situated in cell 3 of the theoretical framework.

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