“The government officials have decided to make May 6 a temporary holiday in hopes of contributing to booming tourism and domestic activation…”
On April 28, this one sentence from President Geun-hye Park had enough power to spread cheer and happiness over many. On Thursday night, shop owners scrambled to prepare street shops for the influx of visitors the following week. The designated temporary holiday allowed citizens to take four days off work, in addition to Korea’s traditional Children’s Day on Thursday. The decision to create a new holiday was to fuel private businesses and foster an economic boom, similar to the Korean Black Friday created last year.
As appealing as this new temporary holiday may look on the calendar, there is something many of us seemed to have missed. Large companies showed ardent support for the creation of this temporary holiday, because it provided opportunities to broaden their range of customers and, of course, because all their workers get a day off. Though the policy managed to please the multinational corporations, it largely left smaller businesses behind. Using temporary holiday merely as an image-booster of the government has completely neglected the other workers; those who were ready to pack their bags and go on a road trip now seem to have the obligation to open their shops and spend a busier holiday.
According to the Korea Herald, Chae-woong Park, a spokesperson for the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, justified the creation of the holiday by stating that it was purely a temporary measure due to the fluctuation of supply and demand. Thus, a temporary measure would be favored over a permanent one.
However, such assertion only provides leeway for more social injustice. There is significant discord between the government’s intentions and the policy’s practical effects. Though the holiday may have good intentions, it has served merely to further polarize the upper class from the rest of Korea’s citizenry. It displayed clearly that those who are richer ultimately hold more right to take a day off, while the small private businesses must work harder to make dinner plates for those big workers. Even though the power to create temporary holidays is not confined to the Korean government alone, such power to designate a different “kind” of holiday for citizens only applies to Korea. If the government called it a “national” temporary holiday, perhaps all industries ought to have the right to take the day off and enjoy the same privileges provided to only a select few. Despite the economic boost this temporary holiday might bring, the government should consider a real “holiday” for all citizens before stepping onto another stone.