London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Seoul’s working hours

Seoul has the world’s longest working hours, according to the Chosun Ilbo:

People in Seoul work the longest hours per year in the world, says a study by the Swiss financial group UBS. In its report “Prices and Earnings,” the Swiss financial group UBS says Seoulites spend more than 2,300 hours at work each year. That’s the longest among 71 world cities surveyed. Based on a 42-hour workweek, the average Korean worker puts in about 60 days a year more than their peers in Paris who spend just 1,480 hours on the job, the world’s lowest.

It comes as no surprise to me that Seoul is up there with the most macho when it comes to working hours. But in the organisation which is good enough to employ me, Singapore, Tokyo and Manila are equally hard-working, based on entirely unrepresentative sample of buddies on my Lotus Sametime contact list. I often find my colleagues in Asia still at their desks way past 10pm.

But with salaries well down the international pecking order (see the same Chosun article), and the most expensive cost of living in Asia, it’ll be a while before I ask for a transfer to my Seoul office.

According to UBS (page 11 of their report) you have to work 29 minutes to earn enough money to buy a Big Mac in Seoul, compared with 16 minutes in London. A kilo of bread will have you chained to your desk for 28 minutes in Seoul vs 5 minutes in London; and similarly a kilo of rice is more hard-earned in Seoul (13 minutes vs 5 minutes in London)

A summary of the UBS report is available on the UBS site here, and a pdf of the detailed report is here.


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