SEOUL - For South Koreans, who work the second-longest hours among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, work is often taken to extremes, especially those in the software and mobile gaming industry.
"So many software and game developers are putting in long hours, especially during a time of high competition against China in the game industry," said Mr Kim, 29, who works at one of the leading mobile game companies.
Mr Kim, who declined to give his full name, said he works an average of nearly 60 hours or more during weekdays. And more often than not, he works weekends, too.
"The law does little to protect employees who overwork, and the situation is similar - or even worse - in other gaming companies, too. And we never receive the overtime wages we are owed," he said. "It's the dark side of society where e-sports gain such popularity that professional gamers and YouTube streamers receive enormous tournament prizes and fame."
The Labour Standards Act currently limits work to 52 hours a week - 40 hours of regular work and 12 hours of overtime. But as the Labour Ministry has interpreted "the week" as excluding Saturday and Sunday, the legal limit is stretched to 68 hours in reality - with 16 hours more on the weekend.
STUCK AT WORK
The widespread practice of overworking especially in the gaming industry even led to the popularity of the term "crunch mode", which refers to employees putting in great number of hours ahead of the release of a game, sometimes not going home for over a week.
"The game industry has increasingly been focusing on mobile-based platforms, shortening games' development period," said Mr Kim Young Seon, a senior researcher at a working hours research institute.
"Due to this transition from the previous online-based platform for which it would normally take three to five years to release new games, companies now are pressured to develop them in less than two years, or even within months, to keep up with the rapidly changing trends for mobile game players," Mr Kim added.