The Center for Free Enterprise claimed that working hours in Korea are similar to or even less than rival Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Hyuk Chul Kwon, President of the Center for Free Enterprise, published a report on June 20 comparing and analyzing the working hours and labor productivity of OECD countries and other major competitors. The purpose of this report was to re-evaluate amendments of the Labor Standards Act, which include holiday working hours as overtime hours.
According to this report, the yearly working hours of Korea in 2010 were 2,193 hours, which is 400 hours more than the OECD average figures of 1,775 hours, but less than the 2,287 hours of Hong Kong or the 2,392 hours of Singapore.
Taiwan, which has a similar per capita income to Korea, recorded 2,174 hours, which is quite similar.
President Kwon insisted that Korea is not the country of the longest working hours, as Koreans work similar to or fewer hours than rival Asian countries.
On the contrary, labor productivity in Korea is remarkably lower than developed countries, including the U.S.
In 2012, per-hour labor productivity in Korea was $28.90, which is less than half of the U.S. ($61.60), France ($59.50), or Germany ($58.30), and 2/3 of the OECD average ($45.80).
According to the analysis of The Center for Free Enterprise, Koreans need to work 2.13 times harder than Americans, 2.06 times harder than the French, and 2.02 harder than Germans in order to catch up.
In addition, to keep up with OECD average labor productivity, Koreans need to work 1.59 times more.
Sang Hun Lee, a researcher at The Center for Free Enterprise, pointed out that it is practically impossible to extend working hours. He also mentioned that Korea has to be cautious on amendments of the Labor Standards Act, which include holiday working hours as overtime hours, as the country only works 57 percent as effectively as Americans.