Korean Luthier Wages

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by jskershaw, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. jskershaw

    jskershaw SS.org Regular

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    Hi all,

    I'm curious as to what kind of wage Korean guitar factory workers make?

    I'm keen to move away from guitars that have been built by exploitative means, particularly Chinese made guitars.
    I'm not for one second knocking Chinese guitars, I've played some fantastic guitars that have come from Chinese factories, however I'm keen to avoid buying guitars made by people who aren't being compensated fairly for their time.

    So, where in the far East pays their workers fairly? I'd guess South Korea. I'm almost certain that the Indonesian guys aren't compensated fairly.
     
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  2. silverabyss

    silverabyss

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    Actually Cortek went to Indonesia because their SK workers were starting to demand fair wages and there was lots of publicity about how mistreated they were but that was circa 2009-2010
     
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  3. rokket2005

    rokket2005 SS.org Regular

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    What constitutes "fair?" In some places, particularly China where people make less than $5-10 dollars a day, these places give their workers a wage and a means to feed their family that they otherwise might not have. It's ridiculous to us in developed countries to make so little money, but cost of living is also way higher here and consumerism and choice is part of life. If everyone boycotted the goods from these cheap labor factories, those people wouldn't have jobs anymore.
     
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  4. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    >affordable products
    >fair wages for workers
    pick one
     
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  5. jskershaw

    jskershaw SS.org Regular

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    Perhaps I should clarify my point here. In which countries are the guitar factory workers generally compensated fairly for their time. China is notorious for paying unlivable wages to their workers. I don't mean fairly by GBP or USD standards, I mean in line with their economy.
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    There are plenty of “affordable” guitars, and products in general, that are built by folks making a living wage. Those two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

    Folks just want fancy things for super cheap.
     
  7. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    depends where you define "affordable", I define affordable as anything under 1k. I know that paying livable wages and churning out affordable guitars is possible, but less so in the US/ South Korea anymore.
    Kiesel/EBMM's US factories pay their workers livable wages and churn out guitars in the 1.2-4k range.

    I did read an article stating that a lot of korean factory workers are ageing out and they're having a hard time drawing younger workers/keeping them around. That's one part of why a lot of guitar building has been shifting more and more to places like china/indonesia, where they don't have to pay people anywhere near as much to make comparable guitars.
     
  8. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    There are plenty of options, but people rather buy a guitar built out of “mahogany” with a paper thin “top” built by the lowest bidder.

    Since the demand is so low, there’s no market in cheaper, first world built guitars.

    It’s not impossible for any practical reason. It’s purely market driven.

    Affordable can mean a lot of things, but it’s important to make the distinction between “affordable” and “cheap”.
     
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  9. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    If we're going to bring WMI into the picture, I'm pretty sure SK is more expensive than flyover US lol.
     
  10. cip 123

    cip 123 SS.org Regular

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    From what I've heard the owner of WMI is a Buddhist and likes to treat his workers well so they're compensated well and have a nice working environment. Lets not forget South Korea isn't exactly a poor country they probably get a decent wage to live on. They're essentially factory line workers, they'll get trained in specific jobs but for the most part like any job in the west you'll settle in to your own department.
     
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  11. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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  12. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    To answer OP's question... America/Europe/Aus. It is true that the cost of living is lower in other countries, but I think the key here is a living wage.
     
  13. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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  14. Andrew Lloyd Webber

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Pussy Melter

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    If a topic ever belonged in the “first world problems” thread, it’s this one.
     
  15. Grand Moff Tim

    Grand Moff Tim Some call me... Tim

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    My cost of living is definitely way cheaper here in SK than it was back in Illinois.
     
  16. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    You own a car?
     
  17. Grand Moff Tim

    Grand Moff Tim Some call me... Tim

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    No, but it'd still be true if I did, since I'm comparing like-for-like here.
     
  18. chipchappy

    chipchappy SS.org Regular

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    I'm curious if the OP follows this approach w/ items like clothes and daily used items that might fall under the same production wages.

    Not knocking the decision, just the only argument I've ever heard against it is "Lots of things apply in that mindset, so what're you gonna do?"
     
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  19. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Thread is basically "I'm feeling like I should be offended by cheap guitars, but I'd like a story to support that."

    Like of all things to make a stance on, is it something you buy < 1 of a year? Meanwhile house is full of electronics gadgets that are probably built under far more exploitive circumstances.
     
  20. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I think the idea of buying things from as "ethical" a supply chain as possible isn't too hard.

    Much easier than trying to buy "USA only" or "UK only", which is downright impossible in this day and age.

    It's much harder to quantify than a lot of people think. Wages are but a small part of big picture. A given job may pay well, adjusted for the region, but may be wildly unsafe.

    In my past profession I had to arrange the supply chain of certain household goods, many of which were made in countries in Asia and South America. I toured or arranged tours of thier facilities. The conditions, even in the same region could vary significantly, but the overarching theme was safety and health of the workers was of least concern.

    Coming back to South Korea, they have thier own version of OSHA, KOSHA. Not sure how effective they are, but a quick search shows that it seems effective.

    I don't understand this "all or nothing" attitude.

    Yeah, in 2018 unless you want to live like the Amish you'll buy some stuff built under dubious circumstances.

    But there's no problem doing what you can. Voting with your pocket book and going with a product made by people who aren't slaves and dying of terrible workplace conditions. That goes for products made in the first world too.
     
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