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How many hours of work in South Korea?


South Korea is well-known for its hard-working culture, with long hours and a strong emphasis on productivity. In this article, we will explore how many hours of work are typical in South Korea and the factors that contribute to this work culture.

History of Work Hours in South Korea

To understand the current state of work hours in South Korea, it is important to look at the country’s history. In the 1960s and 1970s, the government encouraged long working hours as a way to boost economic growth. This approach led to a work culture that valued dedication and sacrifice above all else.

The Current State of Work Hours in South Korea

Today, South Korea is still known for its long working hours. The average workweek is around 40-50 hours, with some employees working even longer than that. Overtime pay is required by law for those who work over a certain number of hours per week.

The Impact of Long Work Hours on Workers

Long work hours can have a negative impact on workers’ physical and mental health. Studies have shown that long hours increase the risk of heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, workers may struggle to balance their work and personal lives, leading to stress and burnout.

The Impact of Long Work Hours on Productivity

While some argue that long work hours lead to increased productivity, research suggests otherwise. Studies have shown that long hours can actually decrease productivity due to fatigue and lack of focus. Additionally, workers who are overworked may make more mistakes and have lower quality output.

The Role of Culture in Work Hours

South Korea’s cultural values play a significant role in the country’s work culture. The concept of “jeong” or loyalty to one’s company is highly valued, and employees are expected to prioritize their work above all else. Additionally, long hours are seen as a sign of dedication and hard work.

The Government’s Efforts to Reduce Work Hours

Recognizing the negative impact of long work hours, the South Korean government has made efforts to reduce them. In 2018, a law was passed that reduced the maximum weekly work hours from 68 to 52. However, some argue that these efforts have been ineffective due to cultural norms and pressure from employers.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Work Hours

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on work hours in South Korea. Many companies have shifted to remote work or reduced hours in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. While this has led to a decrease in overall working hours, it has also created new challenges for workers such as isolation and increased stress.

The Future of Work Hours in South Korea

As South Korea continues to grapple with the impact of long work hours, there is growing awareness of the need for change. Some companies have implemented shorter workweeks or flexible schedules in an effort to improve work-life balance for employees. However, there is still a long way to go before the culture of overwork is fully addressed.


Overall, the issue of work hours in South Korea is complex and multifaceted. While there have been efforts made to reduce working hours and improve work-life balance, cultural values and pressure from employers continue to perpetuate a culture of overwork. As we move forward, it is important to consider the impact of long work hours on both workers and productivity and strive towards a more balanced approach.

How long are work hours in South Korea?

The standard workweek in South Korea is 40 hours, and workers can work an additional 12 hours of overtime each week if they are compensated with extra vacation time or pay, according to the law. However, workers in their 20s and 30s report that they often do not receive these rewards for their overtime work, as told to The Washington Post.

How many hours does the average person work in South Korea?

Based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average employee in Korea worked for a total of 1,915 hours in 2021, which is the fifth-highest number globally and nearly 200 hours more than the global average.

What is Korea law working hours?

The Labor Standards Act’s Article 50 sets a limit of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week for work hours, not including breaks. Employers must pay an additional 50% of ordinary wages for any hours worked beyond the standard legal limit.

How many hours work in Korea as factory worker?

According to Yoon’s 2020 report, plant and machine operators and assemblers in South Korea worked an average of 178.2 hours per month in 2019. This marks a decrease in working hours across all occupations compared to the previous year.

Do Koreans work on weekends?

South Koreans are known for their intense work ethic and long hours, with some considering them to be the hardest-working people in the world. In 2004, the government introduced a program aimed at reducing the workweek to five days and 40 hours in recognition of the need to allow employees to rest and recharge. This initiative also included Saturdays off.

How long is lunch break in Korea?

The work schedule allows for a 30-minute break after every 4 hours of work, but this break is only earned after completing 4 hours of work. Even if you work for 6 hours, you are still entitled to only 30 minutes of break. The usual work hours are from 9am to 6pm.

The Role of Technology in Work Hours

Technology has played a significant role in the work culture in South Korea. With advancements in technology, it has become easier to stay connected to work even outside of regular working hours. This can lead to an expectation of constant availability and an inability to disconnect from work. Additionally, technology has made it possible for employees to work remotely, which can blur the lines between work and personal time.

The Importance of Work-Life Balance

As the negative impacts of long work hours become more apparent, there is growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance. Companies that prioritize work-life balance are more likely to attract and retain employees who value a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. Additionally, employees who have a better balance between work and personal life tend to be happier and more productive at work.

The Role of Unions in Work Hours

Unions have played a significant role in advocating for reduced work hours and better working conditions in South Korea. Unionized workers are more likely to have shorter workweeks and better benefits than non-unionized workers. However, union membership rates in South Korea are relatively low compared to other countries, which may limit the impact of unions on work hours.

The Impact of Gender on Work Hours

Gender also plays a role in work hours in South Korea. Women are more likely to work part-time or have reduced hours due to familial obligations. Additionally, women may face discrimination in the workplace that limits their opportunities for advancement and higher salaries. As a result, women may be less likely to work long hours compared to men.

The Global Context of Work Hours

South Korea’s work culture is not unique – many countries around the world also have a culture of overwork. However, there are also countries that prioritize work-life balance and have shorter working hours. By examining the global context, it becomes clear that work hours are not simply a matter of individual choice or cultural values, but are influenced by broader economic and social factors.

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