Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Have you ever wondered why someone would leave a job in one country and return to their home country? In a video by TV러셀, a 30-year-old youth shares his story of why he quit his job in Japan and returned to Korea. Living in a rented house in Seoul’s Songpa District for a monthly rent of 90,000 won, he takes us through his journey of working as a secretary to a Japanese boss, the challenges of commuting, and the cultural differences between Japan and Korea. He also explores the differences in work culture, salary, and living expenses, shedding light on the reasons that led him to make the decision to return to his home country. This captivating video delves into the personal experiences and insights of an individual who embarked on a cross-country job adventure.

In a second paragraph, the video delves into the unique aspects of working in Japan, discussing the differences in culture between the Japanese and Korean workforces. The individual talks about the meticulous attention to detail and respectfulness prevalent within Japanese organizations, where employees diligently follow company policies and guidelines. They also elaborate on the stress levels experienced by Korean and Japanese workers, with the latter often benefiting from a higher number of holidays and less work-related stress. Additionally, the video delves into the housing market in Tokyo, emphasizing the high cost of living and the preference for rental properties due to the high property prices. Through personal anecdotes and comparisons, this video provides valuable insights into the decision-making process behind leaving a job in one country and returning to another.

Reasons for Quitting My Job in Japan

Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Initial Interest in Japanese Language and Culture

When you first became interested in Japanese language and culture, you never imagined that it would lead you to working in Japan. You studied Japanese diligently throughout your school years and even organized job fairs in Busan, where you eventually found a Japanese company that you were interested in working for. In April 2019, you made the decision to go to Japan and start your career there.

Opportunity to Work in Japan

At first, working in Japan seemed like a dream come true. The opportunity to work in Tokyo, one of Japan’s major cities, while being based in Seoul, Korea, seemed like the perfect arrangement. The conditions and salary were comparable to what you were used to in Korea, and the chance to experience a different work culture was exciting.

Inconvenience of Commuting

However, the reality of commuting from your home in Guri, located far from your office in Guro, was much more inconvenient than you anticipated. The commute took about one hour and 40 minutes one way, making it difficult to balance work and personal life. This inconvenience became even more pronounced when you had to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as you felt confined and isolated. The lack of social interaction and the feeling of being confined started to take a toll on your overall well-being.

Lack of Social Interaction

Another aspect that contributed to your decision to quit your job in Japan was the lack of social interaction. Despite living in a shared apartment, you found it difficult to connect with the other tenants and felt a sense of isolation. The language barrier and the strict adherence to personal privacy norms made it challenging to form relationships and engage in social activities. This lack of social interaction further added to your overall dissatisfaction with your job and life in Japan.

Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Impact of COVID-19

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic further solidified your decision to return to Korea. The uncertainty surrounding the virus and the strict restrictions in Japan made you prioritize your personal safety and well-being. The fear of getting sick and the overwhelming atmosphere of caution and fear in Japan compelled you to make the decision to return to your home country.

Differences in Work Culture

One of the main factors that influenced your decision to quit your job in Japan was the stark differences in work culture compared to what you were familiar with in Korea. In Japan, there was a strong emphasis on hierarchy and authority, with strict adherence to rules and regulations. Communication styles were more formal and reserved, and decisions were often made collectively rather than individually.

Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Focus on Individualism

The individualistic culture in Japan, where personal privacy and independence were highly valued, contrasted with the collectivist culture in Korea. While you appreciated the emphasis on personal responsibility and independence in Japan, you also found it challenging to adapt to the lack of camaraderie and the focus on individual success rather than team collaboration.

Lack of Opportunities for Upward Mobility

In your experience working in Japan, you observed that the opportunities for upward mobility and career advancement were limited. The Japanese work culture placed a strong emphasis on seniority, and promotions were often based on years of service rather than performance or merit. As someone who desired to grow professionally and have more opportunities for career development, this lack of upward mobility was a significant factor in your decision to leave your job in Japan.

Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Financial Limitations

One of the practical considerations that influenced your decision to quit your job in Japan was the financial limitations you faced. As a foreigner working in Japan, you didn’t have access to certain benefits or support systems that were available to Japanese citizens. Living expenses, especially in Tokyo, were high, and the cost of living made it difficult to save and plan for the future. You realized that you could have better financial stability and opportunities by returning to Korea.

Desire to Make Use of Korean Systems and Benefits

Lastly, your desire to make use of Korean systems and benefits played a role in your decision to quit your job in Japan. As a Korean citizen, you knew that there were various support systems and benefits available to you in Korea that would help you build a better future. Whether it was the availability of affordable housing or the potential for career growth, you recognized that you would be better able to achieve your goals in Korea rather than Japan.

Comparison of Work Culture in Japan and Korea

Why I Quit My Job in Japan and Returned to Korea

Differences in Communication Styles

One of the notable differences you observed between work cultures in Japan and Korea was the communication styles. In Japan, communication was more reserved and formal, with a strong emphasis on hierarchy and respect for authority. In Korea, on the other hand, communication was often more direct and informal, with a greater emphasis on building relationships and fostering teamwork.

Approach to Work and Job Security

The approach to work and job security also differed between Japan and Korea. In Japan, there was a sense of loyalty and dedication to the company, with individuals often staying with one company for their entire careers. Job security was high, but at the same time, it was difficult to switch careers or pursue different opportunities. In Korea, job mobility and career changes were more common, with individuals seeking out new challenges and opportunities.

Emphasis on Hierarchy and Authority

Hierarchy and authority played a significant role in both Japanese and Korean work cultures, but the extent of their influence differed. In Japan, respect for authority and adherence to hierarchy were deeply ingrained, with decisions often made by superiors and employees expected to follow instructions without question. In Korea, while hierarchy and authority were still important, there was more room for individual initiative and input.

Lack of Work-Life Balance

Both Japan and Korea are known for their demanding work culture and long hours. However, in Japan, the focus on work often took precedence over personal and family life. The concept of work-life balance was not as ingrained or prioritized as it is in Korea. This lack of balance and the constant pressure to devote excessive time and energy to work were factors that contributed to your decision to leave your job in Japan.

Differences in Housing Preferences

Housing preferences also differed between Japan and Korea. In Japan, there was a preference for traditional houses with gardens, while apartments were less common. In Korea, the preference for apartment living was more prevalent, with high-rise buildings and shared amenities being popular choices. The difference in housing preferences influenced the overall lifestyle and quality of living in both countries.

Living Expenses and Cost of Living in Japan

Differences in Food Expenses

When it came to food expenses, you found that Japan was generally more expensive than Korea. While the cost of groceries and cooking at home was comparable, dining out and eating at restaurants in Japan tended to be more expensive. This was particularly evident when comparing prices for meat, milk, and cheese. Supermarkets in Japan, however, did offer more affordable options for daily necessities.

Transportation Costs

Transportation costs were another area where you noticed a significant difference between Japan and Korea. In Japan, the cost of public transportation was generally higher, with prices increasing for longer distances. The transportation system in Japan, especially in Tokyo, was well-developed and efficient but could be costly for daily commutes.

Impact of Japanese Public Transportation Systems

Despite the higher cost, you found that the Japanese public transportation systems, such as trains and subways, were well-maintained and reliable. The frequency and punctuality of the trains made commuting convenient, even though it came at a higher price. The efficiency and convenience of the public transportation system were among the positive aspects of living and working in Japan.

Benefits of Japanese Commuter Pass System

In Japan, the commuter pass system offered benefits for commuters, especially those who traveled long distances to and from work. With a commuter pass, individuals could travel an unlimited number of times within a specific zone, providing a cost-effective solution for daily commutes. The commuter pass system helped alleviate the financial burden of daily transportation costs for many employees.


After evaluating your experience working in Japan and comparing the work culture, living expenses, and overall quality of life to what you were accustomed to in Korea, you made the decision to quit your job and return to your home country. The lack of social interaction, differences in work culture, financial limitations, and desire to make use of Korean systems and benefits were all factors that influenced your decision. While your experience in Japan provided valuable insights and opportunities, ultimately, personal satisfaction and priorities led you to prioritize your well-being and career growth in Korea.