In recent years, South Korea has significantly improved on its all work, no play culture and now employees are experiencing a better work-life balance
By Zee Johnson
South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor recently released their 2020 work-life balance index for the country’s 17 metropolitan cities and provinces that include Seoul, Busan Incheon, and Suwon. The survey revealed that the nation’s overall work-life balance index is up 2.9 points from 2020, averaging 53.4 points in 2021.
Historically, South Korea’s culture could not deliver a sufficient work-life balance and 60-plus hour workweeks were a thing of the norm. But recent labor laws, like the fight for maternity/paternity leave, along with COVID-19 working structures being set in place, South Korea has recently witnessed a more centered overall focus.
Seoul, the capital city, came in first for having the greatest work-life balance, at 62 points. Trailing closely behind was Busan, the nation’s second most populous city, with 61.2 points. The cities rounding out the top five were Jeju (57.6), South Jeolla Province (57.4), and Sejong (55.9).
On the flipside, there are many South Korean cities who have yet to find a balance that works for both the company and the employee. Gangwon (47), North Gyeongsang Province (47.9), North Jeolla Province (48), Gwangju (48.5), and Incheon (49.7) all fell to the bottom of the work-life balance survey.
The survey also revealed South Korea’s significant decrease in the number of monthly working hours. On average, working hours went from 182.8 to 163.4. Moreover, overtime hours also saw a 2.2-point decrease, going from 12.2 to 10.0, thanks in part to the government’s 52-hour workweek policy and businesses’ work from home guidelines.