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Do South Koreans work alot?


South Korea is known for its strong work ethic and competitive job market. Many people wonder whether South Koreans work more than people in other countries.

History of Work Culture in South Korea

The work culture in South Korea has been influenced by Confucianism, which emphasizes hard work and loyalty to one’s employer. Additionally, the country’s rapid economic growth in the 20th century created a need for long working hours.

Current Work Hours in South Korea

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Koreans work an average of 2,069 hours per year, which is the highest among OECD countries. This translates to around 40 hours per week.

Reasons for Long Work Hours in South Korea

There are several reasons why South Koreans work long hours. One is the cultural emphasis on hard work and success. Another is the competitive job market, where workers may feel pressure to work longer hours to stand out from their peers.

Issues with Long Work Hours in South Korea

Long work hours can have negative effects on workers’ health and well-being. In South Korea, there have been concerns about high rates of workplace injuries and deaths due to overwork, as well as mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The Government’s Response

The South Korean government has taken steps to address the issue of long work hours. In 2018, a new law went into effect limiting the maximum number of weekly work hours to 52, down from 68 previously. The law also requires employers to provide at least one day off per week.

Impact on Economy

Some argue that reducing work hours could hurt the economy by reducing productivity and competitiveness. Others argue that shorter work hours could lead to happier, healthier workers who are more productive in the long run.

Comparison to Other Countries

South Korea’s average work hours are higher than most other OECD countries. For example, workers in Germany and Denmark work an average of around 1,400 hours per year, while workers in the United States work around 1,780 hours per year.

Working Culture Shifts

There are signs that the work culture in South Korea may be shifting. Younger generations are placing more emphasis on work-life balance and are less willing to sacrifice their personal lives for their jobs.

The Future of Work in South Korea

It remains to be seen how the work culture in South Korea will evolve in the future. As the country continues to modernize and become more connected to the global economy, it may adopt more Western-style work practices.


While South Koreans do work longer hours than people in many other countries, there are efforts underway to address the issue of overwork. As the country continues to grow and change, it will be interesting to see how work culture adapts to meet the needs of a new generation of workers.

Why do South Koreans work so much?

Due to factors such as the Korean industrial system and nighttime culture, Koreans work long hours. This has resulted in Korea ranking 3rd globally for annual work hours, with 1,786 hours compared to the US (1,786), UK (1,538), and Germany (1,363 – the lowest among OECD countries).

Are people overworked in South Korea?

With employees working an average of 1,915 hours in 2021, South Korea is recognized as the most overworked country in Asia.

Is life stressful in South Korea?

A 2022 survey conducted in South Korea revealed that 44.9% of respondents reported experiencing stress in their daily lives over the course of the past two weeks.

How many hours do South Koreans sleep?

Koreans tend to sleep less than 6 hours a day on average, despite the minimum of 7 hours recommended. However, they appear well-rested and refreshed. One of the contributing factors to their shorter sleep duration is their tendency to work more.

What is the cost of living in South Korea?

A family of four in the country can expect to spend about 2,300,000 KRW monthly (equivalent to 2,000 USD) on living expenses, not including rent. On the other hand, a single expatriate can expect to pay approximately 652,000 KRW (which is equal to 560 USD) per month for the same expenses, not including rent.

Is South Korea workaholic?

The research findings suggest that around 39.7% of workers in Korea can be classified as workaholics, based on the prevalence data. This was reported on December 23, 2020.

One potential solution to the issue of overwork in South Korea is the concept of “flexible working hours.” This refers to a system where employees have more control over their work schedules, which can help them achieve a better work-life balance. Some companies in South Korea have already started experimenting with flexible working hours, and there is growing interest in this approach.

Another factor contributing to long work hours in South Korea is the prevalence of unpaid overtime. Many workers are expected to stay late or work on weekends without receiving any additional pay. This practice has been criticized by labor advocates, who argue that it is unfair to workers and contributes to a culture of overwork.

To address these issues, some lawmakers and labor advocates in South Korea are pushing for stronger labor protections and better enforcement of existing laws. This could include measures such as increased penalties for employers who violate labor laws, as well as greater support for unions and collective bargaining.

Ultimately, the issue of overwork in South Korea is complex and multifaceted, and there are no easy solutions. However, by raising awareness about the negative effects of overwork and promoting alternative approaches to work culture, it may be possible to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for workers in South Korea.

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