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Korea Begins 52-hour Workweek, but Not All Workers Happy

17:02 July 03, 2018 replay time02:00

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Starting this month, the maximum 52-hour workweek system becomes effective for South Korean companies with more than 300 workers.

Expectations are high that workers will find better work-life balance.

But it may still sound like a pie in the sky idea for some workplaces.

Lee Dong-hoon has more.


On the first day of the 52-hour workweek system, Lee Tae-hoon, a 29-year-old employee, plans to head to the gym after work.

Lee said he will pursue various hobbies like taking video editing and vocal training lessons, which he put on the back burner due to his busy work schedule.

<Lee Tae-hoon / Employee at Lotte Shopping> "I now have more time to relieve stress. Some of my co-workers learn dancing, boxing or workout at fitness centers."

The 52-hour workweek goes into effect at companies with more than 300 workers beginning from July 1, raising expectations among workers for better work-life balance.

Kim Hyun-jin, a 34-year-old working mother, also expects better work-life balance from the new system.

She was always worried about having to ask her parents to drop off and pick up her children at kindergartens. But she is now relieved from such worries with the 52-hour workweek system and flexible working hour system.

<Kim Hyun-jin / Employee at LG U+> "The system allows me to choose my work hours so that I can take care of my children without help from my parents, and I am also excited to enjoy more time with my children after work."

But this is far from the reality for businesses with less than 300 workers and self-employed people.

They express regrets that the new change is not applicable to all business sectors, but they still hope it takes firm root in society.

<Kang Min-wook / Street Vendor Association> "As street vendors are classified differently from office workers, I do not think we can hope for the new system to be equally applied to us."

Some still worry that the system needs improvements, although a six-month grace period is offered for companies having difficulties in applying the change.

Lee Dong-hoon reporting for Yonhap News TV.


Yonhap News TV: (Inquiry on article/Report) KakaoTalk/LINE jebo23

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