Buddha's Birthday, Christmas may soon be part of Korea's alternative holiday system

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Buddha's Birthday, Christmas may soon be part of Korea's alternative holiday system

A crowd of people are seen on a street in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, on Dec. 25, 2022. [YONHAP]

A crowd of people are seen on a street in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, on Dec. 25, 2022. [YONHAP]

 
Korea's alternative holiday bill may soon be expanded to include Buddha's Birthday and Christmas Day, meaning people would still get a day off even if the holiday falls on a weekend.
 
The bill's revision comes as part of the efforts to reduce Koreans' working hours, lighten the burden of small- and mid-size companies and boost the economy, according to the Ministry of Personnel Management on Wednesday.
 
The alternative holiday bill went into effect from July 2021, which designates the first weekday following a public holiday that falls on the weekend as a substitute holiday.  
 
The statutory holidays in Korea that are currently recognized under the bill are the Lunar New Year's holiday, Independence Movement holiday on March 1, Children’s Day on May 5, Liberation Day on Aug. 15, Chuseok, National Foundation Day on Oct. 3, and Hangeul Day on Oct. 9.
 
The advance legislation notice period will begin Thursday and last through April 5, and the bill may be promulgated only after going through the Cabinet meeting and the president’s approval.  
 
The People Power Party (PPP) had previously publicly proposed applying the alternative holiday bill to these two holidays.  
 
"It is about time that the government reviews expanding the designation of substitute holidays, considering the domestic demand, people's right to rest and the requests from religious bodies," PPP floor leader Joo Ho-young said during a party meeting held in December.
 
If the bill passes, the total number of official days off this year, including weekends and statutory holidays, will add up to 117 days — one day more than usual as Buddha’s Birthday on May 27 falls on a Saturday this year.
 
Monday, May 29 will accordingly be designated as an alternative holiday this year. There will be no changes in regards to Christmas Day this year as it falls on a Monday.
 
New Year’s Day on Jan. 1 and Memorial Day on June 6 were not included in the proposed bill after taking into consideration different voices from companies and managements during discussion between related authorities.
 
“I hope the revised bill guarantees Koreans’ rights to rest and help stimulate consumption and revive the market economy,” said Minister of Personnel Management Kim Seung-ho on Wednesday.

BY CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]
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