SEOUL, Jun. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — The harsh working conditions many mailmen are subjected to in South Korea continue to cost lives, as the latest victim, a man who went by the name Yong, was found dead last Thursday after collapsing on the job.
Yong, who was in his late 50s, delivered mail in the rain the night before he was found. He returned to work the next day, and collapsed while taking a break in the early hours of the morning, with the cause of death suspected to be a cerebral hemorrhage.
The death of the Gyeonggi-based postman comes on the heels of the death of another postman, Gwak Hyung-gu, a 47-year-old Asan-based letter carrier who was found dead in his home by a colleague in April.
Gwak was believed to have delivered an incredible 1,200 or more letters every day, according to South Korean media outlets MBC and Joongang Daily.
An autopsy later showed Gwak died due to arteriosclerosis, which is thought to be linked to overwork and stress.
In February, another letter carrier in his mid-40s named Jo succumbed to the same medical condition.
According to the Korean Postman Worker’s Union (KPMWU), a total of eleven postal workers died this year, five of whom lost their lives to cardiac infarction, cerebrovascular disease and cerebral hemorrhage, with some leaving a will in which they expressed frustration towards the work overload facing them.
In a study conducted by the Research Institute for Alternative Workers Movements, South Korean postmen work an average of 55.8 hours per week, which roughly 12 hours more every week than the average Korean worker.
A KPMWU official slammed the cruel schedule that postal workers must abide by, one that stretches into weekends, saying, “During the weekend when you are supposed to spend time with your family and rest, postmen often have to work, making them sick both physically and mentally.”
Korea Post previously announced plans to improve working conditions by reducing working hours and expanding its delivery vehicle capacity after the death of one of its employees in February, and another employee death is adding fuel to the fire.
“As postmen are asked to take on an increasing workload, more personnel need to be hired,” the KPMWU official said.