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October 15, 2007, Korea - "Latest Findings Dismiss Benefits of Daylight Savings", by Jane Han, The Korea Times.


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More than 85 countries _ mostly developed _ implement Daylight Saving Time (DST) for energy-saving benefits during the summer, but a state-run think thank report released Monday dismissed the possible gains the transition would bring here, which is expected to rekindle the debate over the possibility of local observance.

The report made by the Korea Development Institute (KDI), the Korea Energy Economic Institute, the Korean Transportation Institute and the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, said the economic and energy benefits were hard to prove, refuting business and environmental groups claims so far.

DST, also known as ``summertime,'' is the convention of setting clocks ahead one hour in the spring and turning them back one hour in the fall, which transfers an hour of morning daylight to the evening. The most common benefits to result from DST are mainly in the interest of businesses _ as longer daylight allows lengthier money-spending activities _ and energy conservation with its artificial light cutback.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy predicted earlier this year that the clock reset would help the country save 0.3 percent of total electricity and stir up leisure, travel and retail activities equivalent to about 860 billion won in spending, but the recent findings go against these estimations.

``The basis for the assumption was weak because empirical evidence has shown that there is little connection between daylight savings time and energy use,'' said a KDI researcher, as he added there was almost no change in electricity use in the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Australia observed the system.

He claimed that there have been no studies conducted abroad on the economic growth effect pushed by daylight savings.

Although there may be increases in recreation and leisure spending, he said no substantial change in daily working hours means little change in output.

At the other end of the argument are local business groups claiming the government can no longer delay the system's introduction to ensure sustainable development in a more eco-friendly and energy efficient manner.

The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) have participated in various symposiums and forums throughout the summer to promote the benefits of DST, but the decision was left up in the air due to a backlash from labor unions nationwide.

They claim that employers might abuse the system to force employees to work longer and called for a more thorough execution of the five-day workweek before any new system is introduced.

Each side of the argument maintains their position, as Korea may end up being virtually the last Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country not to adopt the DST. Japan and Iceland are the other two countries not using the system, but Japan has been actively reviewing joining the group, while Iceland doesn't see a reason to join due to its year-round long daylight.

Monday's study showed that a reduction in traffic accidents was the only solid benefit that could be found from DST, adding that if the country were to consider the system, it should cooperatively join with Japan in order to cut any extra expense that could result from rearranging international flights.

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