Think Your Work Hours Are Bad? Go To South Korea

In News on June 3, 2008 at 4:32 am

(Pic from MeHere)

A couple of weeks back, Forbes analyzed the results of a survey carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on The World’s Hardest Working Countries. Surprisingly, Malaysia is not noted on the list, despite our bitching about how terrible the working hours are. The No. 1 on the list are the South Koreans, who clock in an average working time of 2,357 hours per year, or an astounding 6.5 hours for every single day of their life.

Funnily enough, there’s a notable lack of Asian countries on that list, with Greece listed as No. 2 on the list and the freakin’ Italians are No. 8–“because of their large number of self-employed citizens”, according to the article. I wonder if workers there consider their siesta period as “work hours”.

On the opposite end of the scale are, shockingly enough, NOT the French–who knows, maybe they consider strikes as working hours–but rather the Dutch (insert getting stoned reference here), who clock in an average of 1,391 hours per year.

Here’s an excerpt of the article:

If you thought you worked long hours, consider 39-year-old Lee from South Korea. A civil servant at the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, Lee gets up at 5:30 a.m. every day, gets dressed and makes a two-hour commute into Seoul to start work at 8:30 a.m. After sitting at a computer for most of the day, Lee typically gets out the door at 9 p.m., or even later.

By the time he gets home, it’s just a matter of jumping in the shower and collapsing into bed, before starting the whole routine all over again, about four hours later. This happens six days a week, and throughout almost all of the year, as Lee gets just three days of vacation.

That’s right. Three days.


Greece comes second in the OECD’s rankings with 2,052 hours worked on average each year, and just behind is a trio of Eastern European nations: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. The U.S. is also above the OECD average of 32 nations, coming at No. 9, with 1,797 hours worked on average each year.


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