Attention is rarely called to the supportive role that the Korean labor market has played over the last twenty years. In this paper, recent macroeconomic events serve as a backdrop to examining a variety of aspects of the Korean labor market. The evolution of the wage structure of the formal economy is analyzed according to sectoral dimensions, as well as worker and firm characteristics. In addition, aspects of Korean compensation systems and employment contracts are examined. The economic implications of the extensive system of nonbasic-wage payments, i.e. bonuses and allowances, are reviewed as is the notion that Korean enterprises rely on Japanese-style permanent employment contracts. The paper concludes by comparing wage and productivity trends over the last decade in an attempt to understand the basis for domestic price inflation. Both cost-push and demand-pull explanations are evaluated. The review suggests that a far vaster urban informal employment sector exists than is usually portrayed in discussions of the Korean economy.