News Focus; Koreans Living Too Busy Lives

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), July 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

News Focus; Koreans Living Too Busy Lives


``Remember time is money,'' said Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) in ``Advice to A Young Tradesman''(1748).

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) said in ``The Fortunes of Nigel (1822),''``Time and tide wait for no man.''

``But meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying (Sed fugit interea, fugit inreparabile tempus),'' said Roman poet Virgil (70-19 BC), and this saying is usually quoted as ``tempus fugit (time flies).''

Besides these sayings and proverbs, there are numerous others about the nature of time across all ages and countries of the world.

But among them all, ``Time flies'' appears to be the paradigmatic phrase for contemporary Koreans, who are distinguished worldwide for their quick and hard-working temperament.``I'm so busy. I have no time. Quickly, quickly.'' This phrase is known only to well to merchants, restaurant waiters and others who interact with Koreans at various tourist destinations worldwide.

An important and interesting survey was conducted of late by the National Statistical Office on how Koreans spend their hours in any given day.

The results of this survey on Koreans' ``war with the time'' were faithful to their famous reputation regarding time and work: Koreans 10 years old and older were found to spend 8 hours and 42 minutes working and only 1 hour and 33 minutes eating.

The survey also found that only one out of every 20 persons works five days a week.

The first-ever NSO survey, which began last September, covered a total of 42,973 people over the age of 10. The study will be conducted every five years.

The survey also revealed that Koreans, particularly those among Seoul's 11 million citizens -- about one-fourth of the nation's total population -- waste their precious time idly on the street.

Of the cited daily working hours of 8 hours and 42 minutes, wage earners were found to spend 1 hour and 12 minutes traveling to and from work.

For Seoul workers, the daily commute took 1 hour and 20 minutes, which accounts for 15 percent of total working hours. This is 31 minutes longer than the 49-minute commute for Chungchong-namdo provincial workers.

This well testifies to the notorious gridlock in the metropolitan area.

Also worth noticing among the survey results is the time Koreans allocate for eating.

Koreans spend only 1 hour and 33 minutes eating in total each day, or 31 minutes at each meal. Namely, they are busy just eating and conduct little conversation at the table. This truly is a picture of life on a hand-to-mouth basis.

One of the most stunning results of the survey is that Korean students, excepting those in college, are apparently dedicated book worms.

Pupils in elementary school spend 7 hours and 20 minutes studying each day, while students in middle school and high school spend as much as 10 hours and 7 minutes.

Comparably, elementary school pupils sleep 8 hours and 58 minutes, middle school students 8 hours and 11 minutes and high school students 7 hours and 7 minutes.

In the case of high school students, they devote 18 hours and 47 minutes to their studies, sleep and eating. …

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