After a long day of touring the Seongdong-gu, and later venturing to other parts of Seoul, it was time to go home for the day. As Colleen and I prepared to leave we asked our supervisor what he had planned for the rest of the day, it was about 6pm. He sais to us, “Oh, I am going back to work!”. We thought maybe he needed to catch up on some work after being out with us all day, and even though we expressed some confusion about it we understood. Until it happened again, and again. I ended up just asking him if that was normal for him, you know, to work past the closing time. The answer was yes.
Since working here I noticed the ManSeok isn’t the only one who stays after the “end” of the work day. Many of the public servants here do. Their day typically ends around 10pm at the latest. For us, it’s hard to understand because if we are scheduled to leave at 6:00pm that is when we are leaving! However, it is different in the office Seongodong-gu office where we are working. I can’t speak for other businesses, or other departments within the building. What I do know is that this dedication to get the work done is truly responsible for this office’s success.
Let’s talk about the quality of work that is done here too. You can definitely put in over-time, but produce work that isn’t of quality right? Not here. For example. since Colleen and I have been here our supervisor has done his job with excellence. He’s responsible for answering all of our questions, translating all of our work, translating our conversations, teaching us about Korean culture and history, and taking care of any other needs we may have that comes along the way. He does all of this, and he does it without complaints and with a smile.
Sometimes we worry that we are asking too much of him, and we make sure that we give our tasks 110%, but he always tells us that he likes working with us. In fact, he doesn’t mind doing the extra work that he does as our supervisor. Each time we come into the office everyone is working diligently on their computers. Everyone seems to be on task, and getting what needs to be done done.
Throughout the day, though, they take plenty of breaks to eat snacks or just talk. Their lunch break lasts for an hour, and there’s no rush to get back either. I was slightly confused by this because I’ve never had a 1 hour lunch, but I have also never worked an office job before. With their long work days it is reasonable to break that often and that long. It’s a great balance!