South Korea Will Shut Off Computers To Stop Employees From Overworking

The government of South Korea is trying to curb a "culture of working overtime," and has mandated that federal employees must power down their computers by 20:00 (8 p.m.) on Fridays and leave work, in the first of three phases of the program.

South Koreans work some of the longest hours in the world - with government employees clocking an average of 2,739 hours per year, around 1000 more than workers in other developed countries which have an average of 1,763, according to Yonhap.

(2016 figures)

According to a survey by the Ministry of Personnel and Management, the average overtime worked in 2017 was 70.4 hours per month for around-the-clock employees, and 31.5 hours per month for ordinary workers. 

Officials of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries had the most overtime hours with 158.3 hours a month, followed by the National Fire Agency with 144.8 hours, the Coast Guard with 132.2 hours and the Korea Customs Service with 110.1 hours. -Yonhap


The mandated 20:00 Friday shutdowns will begin on March 30, while the second phase in April will add mandated shutoffs at 19:30 on the second and fourth Friday of theat month. 

After May, the program will mandate shutoffs at 19:00 (7 p.m.) hours every Friday. 


While South Korea's emphasis on a work-life balance is commendable, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), 67.1% of government workers have asked to be exempt from the forced lights-out.

Meanwhile, South Korea's national assembly passed a law earlier this month to cut the maximum weekly working hours from 68 to 52.