[MINORITY VOICE]Less Work and More SweatThe five-day workweek has become the talk of the town. The government says that it will begin implementing the new system in the public sector.
Employers are concerned lest the shortened workweek leads to decreased productivity under current circumstances. But it seems certain that the era of the five-day workweek is near at hand.
The purpose of reducing working hours is to enhance productivity by allowing workers to do their best while at work, but then allowing them to have enough leisure time, and leisure time of a high enough quality, to fully recharge their batteries.
For modern people, true refreshment is possible only when the surrounding environment allows them to make good use of their leisure time, especially by exercising. But what Korea has to offer can be generalized using exercise facilities as an example: a number of expensive health clubs and a few of free facilities with just a few meagre parallel bars in public spaces. It goes without saying that before implementing a five-day workweek, the government has to make investments to build facilities which the public can enjoy and from which the public can benefit.
We should pay particular attention to teenagers. Korea's youth is increasingly out of touch with the joy of physical exertion. School playgrounds are desolate, uncared-for places that resemble nothing so much as fields of dust. The sports equipment there has not been upgraded for decades. Who can have fun with such uninspired and old-fashioned facilities?
Physical education is put on the back burner because of the nation's obsession with university entrance examinations.
With a five-day workweek, teenagers will have one more holiday every week. Giving them more time to play when there are not enough facilities to play with may cause them more harm than good. If we tell our teenagers, who are used to computer games, to get some exercise at the parks in their neighborhoods, how many of them will really do so?
Due to the lack of proper sports facilities, teenagers lose interest in playing sports and get stuck in their rooms or end up in beer bars or night clubs.
In preparation for the five-day workweek, we should build more facilities that allow our teenagers to get some exercise. Then we need to make efforts to draw youths to these athletic facilities, giving them information about what facilities are available and where and how to use them.
We should get teenagers currently glued to their computer screens out to playgrounds and let them have the precious, satisfying experience of a good sweat.
I urge the government to increase investment in building sports infrastructure. We should be worried about our teenagers, who are taller than previous generations but get exhausted by only a few chin-ups or a sprint of just a few hundred meters.
They are our hope and Korea's future depends on them. What is the government waiting for?
It is time that we, as grown-ups, thought deeply about what we can do for our children, who are increasingly becoming slaves to machines.
The writer is a professor of physical education at Sangji University.
by Choi Myung-soo