The novel coronavirus brought a significant shift into how the world functions. Businesses struggled to survive, economies grappled to stand on their feet, and people distanced themselves to save each other's lives. Another turn of events was the disappearance of physicality from various aspects of life. With digital being the dominant paradigm, some things changed for the better and some for the worse. With shops and businesses shifting to online mediums to offer their goods and services, the toll on delivery workers has become heavier than ever.
South Korea is known as home to an overworked class of people. The nation is considered to have the longest working hours among the developed lot of the world. And one of the professions that stand out in the 'long working hours' category is delivery workers. They are reported to be immensely overworked. So much so that they have a term for casualties from working too much. They call it 'Kwarosa' – which literally means death by overwork. However, amid the raging virus, the hours have prolonged beyond saturation. According to an ABC report, workers' unions claim that 21 delivery workers have died due to overworking during the pandemic. The workers who drive trucks to various locations to deliver products have to load their vehicles with the consignments themselves. And the worst part is these workers do not get paid for loading their trucks with packages.
Lee Seong-Wook, one such delivery worker, tells his story in the ABC report, mentioning he works six days a week and sometimes has to work as late as 1:00 AM (local time) to finish delivering the packages. "If I cannot deliver all the items on time, then I have to start very early the following day," says Seong-Wook.
South Korea's delivery workers are an essential part of keeping the economy running during the pandemic. However, their well-being is the last thing that the nation worries about. Seong-Wook's friend and co-worker, Im Gwang-Soo, was clocking 90hours a week.One day, he suffered from a brain haemorrhage and slipped into a coma, with only 5 percent chance of survival, Seong-Wook told ABC.
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