Gendered working-time arrangements and their policy implications: Korean experiences

Sook Yeon Won

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study is to explore the reality of gendered work time and its policy implications. With the dual-earner model of family, the amount and manner in which time is spent for paid work, as opposed to unpaid work, constructs gender relations in Korea. This article raises the following questions. What is the impact of exceptionally long working hours on gender relations in the workplace and the family in Korea? In terms of time spent, to what extent are there changes in the unquestioned exclusive care responsibility by women and traditional notions of fatherhood? To what extent has the Confucian dichotomy of public (workplace) and private (family) been altered, in terms of the workplace practice of long working hours? In doing so, this study applies quantitative and qualitative data from various sources. The findings show that, despite moving towards a dual-earner reality, the Confucian dichotomy of unpaid work and fatherhood is still tenacious. Furthermore, the practice of extremely long working hours provides a ‘good’ reason for a father's absence in unpaid work, which in turn reflects the Confucian fatherhood. Also, this prevents mothers from achieving fuller integration into the labour market. Given these findings, we can see that the practices of long working hours and Confucian traditions combine to generate a vicious circle of gender inequality in the labour market and the family. The policy implications of these practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-307
Number of pages23
JournalTime & Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Dual-earner family
  • South Korea
  • gender inequality
  • working-time arrangements


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