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Mayor's Hope Journal

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  • Seoul’s Siesta Policy
    [Mayor Park Won Soon’s Hope Journal 520]

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    Do you think I’m ugly? Well, take a look at a column by Lee Eunho in E-daily.

    Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon is known for having a face that invites “mockery”. His narrow eyes, nose that looks too large for his face, receding hairline, and numerous laugh lines make his face unattractive enough to give hope to average Korean men.
    Yet, I can’t help but think Mayor Park looks oddly handsome. You can see endless empathy in his narrow eyes; his large nose shows resolute commitment; his long forehead gives off a sense of coolness; and his wrinkles exude honesty. This is an unbelievable feeling that I have, as if I’ve been possessed by a demon or finally cracked under the stress.
    So I decided to sit down and figure out why I think he is so handsome. After a while, I realized that it all began on one day last week, when I heard that Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to allow its officials to take afternoon siestas.

    The following is a summary of the article:
    Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to allow a maximum of one hour for any of its employees who wish to take naps after lunch, between 1pm and 6pm. Seoul’s siesta policy is modeled after the siestas that are practiced in several Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Italy, and Greece. Among the central and regional governments, Seoul Metropolitan Government is the first to provide a nap time for its officials. The only condition is that if an official uses up one hour of nap time, he/she must either come in an hour early or stay an hour late (from 9am to 6pm) to make up for the lost time and fulfill the legal working hour requirement (8 hours). Those city government officials who wish to take a nap can make a request to their supervisors after they come in to work, and unless there is a specific reason, the supervisors are required to give their permission.

    In a column on June 24, I posed a somewhat sensational argument in which I urged all companies to let their employees take siestas. I did my best to cite a number of examples, including Hugo Inc., a prominent Japanese IT company in Osaka, which allows its employees to take a nap at their desks or on the office floor between 1pm and 4pm; Meizen High School in Fukuoka, which lets its students take a 15 minute nap after lunch; the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, which encourages Japanese citizens to take naps in March; and research presented at an academic conference in Cheltenham, UK, by Vincent Walsh, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, which proved that work and learning effectiveness increases when brains take a rest during the day. However, I never expected it to actually become policy, because it’s a policy that cannot be realized without strong determination for change and utmost love for the workers. Yet Mayor Park simply decided to institute such a groundbreaking policy and allow city officials to take naps. So it’s no wonder that he seems so handsome to me. In fact, if anyone shouted “Park Won Soon, you’re so handsome!” at the top of his lungs in Gwanghwamun Square, I would nod in agreement without a second thought.

    When I arrived at this point in my deliberation, I realized that I had been needlessly concerned. I wasn’t crazy after all.