South Koreans work 400 hours more a year than the average among the OECD group of advanced economies. According to one recent survey, 40 percent of annual leave goes unused.
The man who carried out that survey says it is a product of the country's rapid 20th century industrialisation, built by a work force willing to put in long hours for low pay.
Employers now take that mindset for granted. For all that hard work, productivity remains stubbornly low; a 2011 government survey ranked South Korea 28th out of 30 countries in terms of output per hour worked.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Seoul.