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A year with many public holidays
JANUARY 01, 2014 03:16  
"October 1 and 2 fall on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and October 3 is the National Foundation Day. The following days of October 4 to 7 are Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays, followed by Saturday on the 8th and Sunday on the 9th. Let`s work hard." This is a year-end text message sent to me by a friend. After looking at the calendar to see whether vacation days fall in 2014, I found that they fall in the year 2044. By 2044, I will pass age 80, and will be grateful to be alive to have so many holidays. Yet I will need to keep working to enjoy such excitement.

Last year, both the Lunar New Year Day and Children`s Day fell on Sunday. The March 1 Independent Movement Day and Buddha`s Birthday fell on Fridays to soothe our heart. Though not as many as the year 2044, 2014, the Year of the Horse, also has many holidays. According to the Security and Public Administration Ministry and Statistics Korea, there are 67 holidays in 2014, the most in 12 years. Due to the substitute holiday system, which allows workers to have one extra day off when a national holiday falls on Sunday, that takes effect, Chuseok holidays will gain one more day and workers will have a day off on June 4, the local election day.

More holidays are not welcome by certain people, however. For young people without jobs and those laid off, holidays could be a scratch to wounds. Owners of small and medium sized companies will be financially burdened due to production reductions and overtime work payment. Just as the lyrics of the song "Ticket to the tropic" shows, holidays are a time for rest and to escape from exhausting work, and a chance to relieve of stress. Taking some time for rest enables people to be much more creative and recharge energy later.

More excitement is awaiting in 2014. This year, the Sochi Winter Olympics will be held (February 7-23) and people can enjoy the spectacle performance of Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na. At the Brazil World Cup (June 13-July 14), Korean people will again sit in front of TVs wearing red T-shirts. Again, the Incheon Asian Games (September 19-October 4) will raise Korean pride. This doesn`t mean people can forever enjoy the relaxing environment. The public will pick heads of regional governments this year. The education superintendent election is also important given the collapsing Korean education. Only a healthy body and hard work can enable pleasurable holidays.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)

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