South Korean Face Record Commutes; Average of 58 Minutes

John Kim, April 7, 2016, 11:47 a.m.


Korean office workers spend an average of 58 minutes commuting, longer than any of the other 25 nations surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The government has thought up various solutions to the problem because it reduces work efficiency and quality of life, including a metropolitan express railway in Seoul and surrounding areas, but none of them have come to anything.

According to a recent OECD report, Korean workers commute more than twice as long as the OECD average of 28 minutes, and three to four times Norway's 14 minutes and Sweden's 18.  Korean workers spend more time on the way to and from work than even the Chinese (47 minutes) and Indians (32 minutes), who are not among the world's wealthiest nations but were included for controls. 

Experts cite two reasons. First, transportation bottlenecks on certain roads from the suburbs to the office hubs of downtown Seoul. Second, the supply of transport services has fallen short of demand with the construction of new bed towns in Ilsan and Bundang near Seoul in the early 1990s.

A researcher of the Korea Transport Institute said, "There's not been enough public transportation although the populations in suburbs like Ilsan and Bundang have increased two to five times as a result of new bed towns there." "Shortening commute times is directly related to the welfare of commuters," the researcher added. 

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