Working Practices

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Working hours

South Korea has recently introduced a 52-hour maximum working week. The change was introduced to improve employee’s work-life balance.

Overall, South Koreans are allowed 40 hours of regular work, as well as 12 hours overtime.  

National Holidays

     The following five national holidays are the most popular in South Korea:

  • Independence Declaration Day (Samiljeol), which commemorates the March First Movement
  • Liberation Day (Gwangbokjeol) celebrated on 15 August. It marks the national liberation from Imperial Japan in 1945
  • National Foundation Day, marks the foundation of Gojoseon, the first state of the Korean nation, on the 3rd day of the 10th lunar month, 2333 BCE
  • Hangeul Day (Hangeullal) 9 October, commemorates the invention and proclamation of the Korean writing system


Public holidays 2019

New Year's Day: January

Seollal: 4-6 February

March 1st Movement Day: 1 March

Children's Day: 5 May

Buddha's Birthday: 12 May

Memorial Day: 6 June

Liberation Day: 15 August

Chuseok: 12-14 September

National Foundation Day: 3 October

Hangeul Day: 9 October

Christmas Day: 25 December

Visas and eligibility to work

South Korea requires a visa to visit the country, to study or to work there. In the education sector, the most common are E-5: Visa for professionals, E-1: Visa for Academics and E-3: Visa for conducting a research project.

As the requirements can vary for different citizenships holders, it is worth visiting the official resource Hi Korea. This is the main site of the electronic government for foreigners, created by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Labor.



The tax year in South Korea runs from Jan 1st to Dec 31st.  The level of tax paid on earned income depends on the individual resident classification, with all residents, including foreigners, having to pay a resident surtax of 10% of their taxable income.

Foreign employees, who choose the flat rate option for their individual income tax, would then pay 18.5% when the resident surtax is added. Those who choose the progressive rate would pay 6%, 16.5%, 26.4%, 35% or 41.8% when the resident surtax is added.

Employers are required to deduct withholding tax from each employee’s salary each month. Employers must withhold the taxes for each employee to NTS by the tenth day of the following month. Employers who have less than 20 employees can, with the permission of the tax office, pay the taxes withheld twice a year instead of every month - although the tax will still be deducted from each pay.


Pensions and benefits

The pension in South Korea is an earnings-related scheme with benefits based on both individual earnings and the average earnings of the insured individual as a whole. Currently, the pension age is 61 with at least ten years of contributions, although this is gradually increasing and will reach 65 by 2033.  The early retirement age is also gradually increasing from 56 to 60 years.



The rights of disabled workers in South Korea are defined under the Anti-Discrimination Against and Remedies for Persons with Disabilities Act 2007, with employers legally obliged to promote access to the workplace for disabled people.

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