|Korea's workplace culture is changing, with 64.5 percent of employees stating that they are free to refuse invitations to attend work dinners, according to a survey, Tuesday. / gettimagesbank|
By Kim Rahn
Evening staff dinners and drinking sessions known as "hoesik," once an essential part of working life in Korea, are starting to change, in line with the adoption of the 52-hour workweek system and bans on workplace bullying implemented earlier this year.
While the drinking sessions used to be considered a requirement, 64.5 percent of 1,824 employees surveyed by recruiting platform Saramin said, Tuesday, they are able to turn down such "invitations" without facing negative consequences.
About 40 percent of the respondents also said hoesik culture has changed since the implementation of the shortened workweek system and the anti-bullying law that states forcing employees to participate in such gatherings is a kind of bullying. When multiple replies were allowed, 42.4 percent said the get-togethers finish earlier than before, 26.2 percent said they do not go for further rounds of drinking, 22.5 percent said they are under less pressure to participate in the gathering, and 18.3 percent said they are under less pressure to drink alcohol.
More than 97 percent viewed such changes positively, because they have more personal time after work (51.8 percent), can work the next day without a hangover or fatigue (40.8 percent), and can enjoy a more comfortable atmosphere during the meal without being forced to drink.
However, 24.7 percent of the surveyed employees said they could face tacit disadvantages when skipping such gatherings, such as feeling isolated from their colleagues, being regarded by their coworkers as someone who is not well-suited to the organization, not hearing about important issues about the company, or a negative influence on their chances of promotion or other personnel affairs.