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I agree. Nowadays, the Japanese don’t work that many more hours than Americans (who do still work a lot for a developed country).
South Koreans, on the other hand, work a ton more hours. I live in S. Korea and you’ll still see tons of people in suits going home at 11 pm.
That being said, they’re not actually full-on working hard during all those hours. A lot of that time is spent dawdling and such because culture dictates that they must leave after the boss. South Korea has embarassingly low productivity rates (productivity/hours worked). Nonetheless, the amount of time spent at the office and away from family is still a huge burden and very stressful.
People are beginning to realize this, but there’s still a long way to go. Recently the government enacted observed public holidays for when the holiday fell on a weekend. Until last year or so, if a public holiday fell on a weekend, you didn’t get friday or monday off. Now, if it falls on Sunday, you get monday off (but not if it falls on Saturday, as that’s considered a working day. Businesses fought really hard against this, and there were attempts in the past to pass this law that failed due to business lobby. And yes, for Saturday is a working day for many. Fortunately, this is slowly going out of style, but not for everyone.
South Korean work life sucks.