Younger Koreans Embrace Shorter Working Hours

  • By Kim Sung-mo

    October 10, 2019 08:36

    More and more young workers have embraced the shorter working week and broken with the salaryman's entrenched habit of staying in the office until the boss finally leaves. The younger the workers, the fewer hours they work, though old habits seems to die hard among older office drudges.

    Statistics Korea released the findings last week based on mobile data on the movements of office workers in the Seoul metropolitan and surrounding areas. Statistics Korea analyzed SK Telecom and KT mobile big data from November 2017 on the movements of 1.16 million workers between 25 and 55 in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province.

    It showed that workers in their 50s slaved the longest at 10 hours and 42 minutes a day, followed by those in their 40s with 10 hours and 30 minutes, those in their 30s with 10 hours and 24 minutes and those in their 20 with 10 hours and 18 minutes.

    Statistics Korea did not count after-hours conviviality in bars near the office, where older workers also feel more compelled to join in. Until recently, office culture in Korea was notoriously military in style, with a rigid hacking order, grueling hours and enforced after-work gatherings that workers dodged at their peril.

    But that is changing. One 24-year-old office worker who has worked for a major conglomerate for two years said, "We're allowed to choose what time we come to work and go home as long as we work the mandatory 40 hours a week, including the key hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This means we don't have to hang around in the office until our boss heads home."

    Men still tend to work longer hours. Male office workers worked 10 hour and 42 minutes a day but women 10 hours and 12 minutes, presumably because they have children to look after. Also, younger office workers then have to commute longer distances. Those in their 20s spent 51 minutes commuting, those in their 30s 49 minutes, those in their 40s 47 minutes and those in their 50s 42 minutes.

    Statistics Korea said older workers are financially more stable and can afford to live closer to the office.

    • Copyright © Chosunilbo &
    Previous Next
    All Headlines Back to Top