Optical illusion effect of media reports ‘Korea is no longer a country with long working hours’

As a report was published showing that the gap in working hours in Korea, famous for being an ‘overwork society’, has significantly narrowed compared to that of OECD countries , there followed a report titled that Korea is no longer a country with long working hours. Netizens reacted with absurdity to the results, which were contrary to past evaluations of the country being considered the worst ‘workaholic’ country. Has Korea moved away from being a country with long working hours?

On the 11th, the Korea Employers Federation (KEF) said in a report titled ‘International Comparative Analysis of Working Hour Status and Trends’ that “the difference between Korea’s actual working hours and the OECD average has decreased significantly,” and that “full-time workers, who are subject to policy consideration of long working hours, have significantly decreased.” “If we take into account the errors caused by differences in time and statistics between countries, it is no longer difficult to view our country as an overall long-term country,” he said.

According to the report, the average annual actual working hours of Korean wage earners have decreased by about 500 hours since 2001, reducing the gap with the OECD average from 691 hours (2001) to 185 hours (2022). The report said, “ It is a larger decrease than the OECD average decrease (47 hours), and the decrease is the largest among OECD countries.”

The Korea Federation of Korean Industries also released data excluding only ‘full-time’ workers. As of last year, the average weekly actual working hours of ‘full-time’ wage earners was 42 hours, which was only 1.3 hours different from the OECD average (40.7 hours, based on the published weighted average). The report said, “Based on the arithmetic mean standard mainly used by our Ministry of Employment and Labor, the difference in actual working hours per week compared to the OECD average is only about 52 hours when converted to annual terms.”

The report cited ‘rationality’ as the reason for analyzing full-time work separately, excluding part-time work. This means that in countries where the proportion of part-time workers is higher, actual working hours are lower. The report states, ” Based on OECD standards, the actual working hours of all wage earners in Japan in 2022 are 1,626 hours, which is a difference of 278 hours compared to Korea’s 1,904 hours. However, the proportion of part-time workers in Japan (31.6%) is higher than that in Korea (17.0%), so the overall working hours are 1,626 hours.” “Considering that working hours are being reduced, the question is whether it is appropriate to view 278 hours as the difference in actual working hours.”In line with the report, there have been reports that Korea is no longer a country with long working hours. On the front page of Maeil Business Newspaper on the 12th, <The old saying about ‘long working hours’… Koreans work 42 hours a week>, page 15 <Korea, long working hours are a misunderstanding… “When increasing flexibility”> article was placed. “Contrary to existing perceptions, there was not much difference from the OECD average. It also included an interview with the head of the Economic Research Division of the Korean Federation of Korean Industries, who said, “We need to get rid of the frame of being a country with long working hours and improve working hour flexibility.” Dozens of reports in the same vein poured in online.

The Korean Economy also posted on page 8 on the 12th, <Korea, 42-hour work week… OECDFollowing the publication of the article “No difference fromIn “Abandoning the ‘Country with the Longest Working Hours’ Frame,” “According to the report, the working hours of Korean workers have decreased significantly and are now at a level that is not as long as in other major countries,” and “After the controversy over the maximum 69-hour workweek, we are re-promoting the reform of working hours that has been drifting.” At the same time, it is urgent to increase labor market flexibility by establishing the rule of law in industrial settings and reorganizing wages based on job and performance-based pay systems.”

Netizen: “It’s nonsense” Expert: “You can’t escape Korea’s long working hours”

Netizens reacted to reports that working hours in Korea are not long. Maeil Business Newspaper <The old saying about ‘long working hours’… The online article “Koreans work 42 hours a week” drew sharp reactions, such as “This is nonsense” and “Our company alone is a medium-sized company, but we work more than 60 hours a week.” Even in the Korea Economic 메이저놀이터Daily editorial, there were lamentations such as “I don’t know, but I really don’t know” and “Aren’t you pitiful for the generation that lives while working two jobs?”

Experts also refuted the numbers in the KEF report, saying they were not meaningful enough, citing concerns about an ‘illusion’. Korea is still a country with long working hours.

Kim Seong-hee, a professor at Korea University’s Graduate School of Labor, said in a phone call with Media Today, “Korea has been a country with very long working hours, so it is natural for the number to decrease.” He added, “The proportion of ultra-short-time workers is currently increasing significantly in Korea. Overall, working hours will decrease, but part-time workers “It cannot be said that it is unconditionally good because the proportion has increased. As the proportion of part-time workers decreases, it is desirable to increase working hours,” he said.

She pointed out that practices such as ‘overtime work’ were not also reflected. Professor Kim said, “The characteristic of countries with long working hours is that they cannot leave work. Even for full-time workers, overtime work is almost fixed. An average of 2 hours is fixed, which is quite long.” He added, “If you calculate it simply by the number of hours, the working hours are not many. There can be an optical illusion that it doesn’t look like it. Just 2 hours a week is 100 hours longer in a year.

In fact, Korea is still the country with the highest working hours in the OECD . According to the ‘April issue of NABO Economic Trends’ published by the National Assembly Budget Office in April , Korea’s working hours as of 2021 are 4th among 36 OECD countries, following Mexico (2,128 hours), Costa Rica (2,073 hours), and Chile (1,916 hours). It was above.

‘Quality of life’ indicators are more serious. According to a paper titled ‘Typology of Work-Life Balance Time Guarantee’ (Professor of Social Welfare at Kangseo University Noh Hye-jin) published in the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs’ Health and Social Research in July, Korea has a low level of work-life balance time guarantee due to long working hours, the so-called ‘War. Laval’ was classified as one of the lowest ranking countries. The level of guaranteed (adequate) working hours was the third lowest among OECD countries (31 countries), and it ranked 20th in the area of ​​family time. Along with the United States and Greece, it is considered a country lacking ‘time sovereignty’ as the degree of guarantee of work and family tim

According to a study on ‘Leisure Time Use and Life Satisfaction in Korea’ published in the Korea Labor Institute’s ‘Monthly Labor Review’ (Senior Researcher Kyu-Jun Cho), based on OECD data, the average ratio of leisure time use compared to 24 hours per day in Korea is 17.9 % . Data: It ranked 28th among 33 OECD countries. The report said, “Countries with a high ratio of leisure time use are characterized by short working hours and high life satisfaction,” and “Korea’s average annual working hours are similar to those of Germany (1,349 hours) and Sweden (1,444 hours).” “There is a significant difference from these high-ranking countries,” he said.

Professor Kim Seong-hee said in a phone call, “The problem of ‘unpaid’ labor in which wages are not paid is still large, and the proportion of workers in workplaces where working hours are not managed, such as workplaces with less than 5 employees, is still large,” and “Even regular employees at large companies are still working fixed overtime. “When looking at the labor structure, including practices, comprehensively, it is difficult to say that Korea has escaped the long working hours system. It is still too early to give any meaning to the fact that Korea has escaped the long working hours with this level of data,” he said.

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