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Shorter office hours push South Koreans to home cooking

Restaurants suffer from new law reforming the country's work culture

Restaurants in Seoul are noticeably empty on weekdays at 7 p.m., what used to be prime hours for colleagues to eat out together before the government moved to reduce overtime.

SEOUL -- South Korean workers are leaving their offices and factories earlier thanks to a mandated shorter workweek, which seems to be bad news for restaurants and bars.

Under a labor law that took effect July 1, the maximum workweek has been cut to 52 hours from 68. "More staff try to go home quickly when it approaches time to clock out" since the change, said a worker at a major shipbuilder. Their computers automatically shut down after 5:30 p.m. so "there is little work to do even if you stay," the employee added.

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