Holiday crisis hits S Korea

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 March, 2010, 12:00am

Last week, Baat Gwaa told you about the importance of work-life balance. This week, I heard from a friend about a ridiculous phenomenon in South Korea called 'holiday deficit'.

What a shocker! The government there is desperately trying to get workers to take time off. South Koreans have been told for decades to make personal sacrifices to build the country's economy and, after years of hard work, they have all turned into work zombies.

They are officially world-champion workaholics, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

To change that, the government issued a directive in January requiring its one million state workers to submit to their bosses a plan to take 16 days off this year. Sounds like a good plan - the only problem is that even bosses behind the vacation initiative can't be bothered to take leave either.

President Lee Myung-bak, who first raised the holiday crisis alarm last year, is a reluctant holidaymaker himself. His personal tally since taking office in 2008: four days.

A holiday specialist from Germany has been brought in to head the Korea Tourism Organisation. Perhaps he will teach Koreans how to enjoy life.