June 20, 2013 12:00
The Seoul Metropolitan Government's "cool-biz" dress code aimed at reducing energy consumption and allowing staff to work in more comfortable clothes in summer has been a resounding flop.
The recommended dress code, introduced two years ago is short-sleeved shirt, shorts and sandals.
But the campaign only exists in name only, and not a single civil servants working for the city government entered City Hall in cool-biz look between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on June 14, when the temperature was around 30 degrees.
Most were wearing the standard business combo of shirt, formal trousers and formal shoes.
The biggest reason the campaign is not working is because old habits of what passes for "respectful" dress die hard.
One director at the city government said, "It wouldn't matter if we always worked at City Hall, but we have to visit other organizations a lot and have to get changed every time. It’s more practical just to wear formal wear although it’s a bit hotter."
Some also say that people look at them askance if they don casual clothes. "Of course we'd like to wear clothes that would make us feel less hot in the summer," one staffer said. "But when I'm wearing shorts, visitors look at me as if they don't know what I'm doing here."
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