Workers sober up to group drinks

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Workers sober up to group drinks

A new generation of workers seems to want fewer get-togethers with their colleagues.

While the Korean corporate community is notorious for having frequent group meals in the name of boosting teamwork, or hoesik, a survey has found employees would prefer to spend less time with their workmates - and not just because of some embarrassing consequences driven by intoxication.

The study found that of 801 workers at Hyundai Automotive Group - which manages both Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors - 41 percent would prefer having a group meal only once a month. Some 26 percent opted for a gathering once each quarter, and 24 percent thought twice a month was frequent enough. They felt too frequent get-togethers were devoid of “jeong,” the unique term in Korea that refers to warmhearted feelings for members of a certain group.

Almost a quarter of respondents (23 percent) said their favorite after-work group function was having chimaek, or chicken and beer, at a baseball stadium and watching the game together, while their second choice was having a formal dinner at a decent restaurant. About 20 percent preferred having grilled pork or beef at a casual restaurant, and 16 percent favored going to a cinema or museum, or bowling or billiards.

When asked about episodes during the company meal they would want to forget, 53 percent said having blacked out from overdrinking, followed by 11 percent who said they confessed to their colleagues they wanted to be friends or lovers.

The overall response implies the Korean corporate scene is changing as more employees are reluctant to take part in hoesik, with a growing portion of the younger generation prioritizing their personal lives over life at work.

Hyundai, the nation’s top automaker conglomerate, is known for a particularly strict hierarchy and a heavy-drinking culture.

A different survey last week by Job Korea, a recruiting portal site, showed 45.3 percent of 799 corporate workers nationwide had hoesik once or twice a month. Once in three months followed at 35.6 percent and once or twice a year came in at 15.2 percent.

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