The Faces of 20’s in Korea
Recently, the percentage of single-person households have been rising gradually in South Korea. It is not unusual to see someone eating alone, drinking alone, or even playing alone. This ‘Being Alone’ phenomenon is a social trend. This phenomenon may have become a big trend because of the endless competition in our society, which makes people tired of having relationships with others. Furthermore, we can see the spread of individualism, which has led to the increasing ratio of unmarried people. There are so many new words that refer to this trend, such as ‘Honbap(Eating alone)’, ’Honsul(Drinking alone)’, ‘Ilconomy’(One family economy) and ‘Gwantaegi’(Lassitude in a relationship). You can easily see these words often used on SNS these days.
The word ‘Gwantaegi’ is the combination of the words ‘gwangye’(relationship) and
‘gweontaegi’(lassitude).It is a phenomenon in which people get tiresome of relationships with other people. SNS platforms like Instagram and Facebook may be considered as a contributing factor toward the ‘Being Alone’ trend. According to the National Statistics Office, single-person households in South Korea have grown up to over 500,000. Some specialists predict that these single households will continuously and rapidly increase because of the current cultural trend.
Singlesumers(Single person consumers) have influenced the consumer markets. As the single household trend spreads, large markets target these consumers with individually packaged, ready-to-eat foods. This food is popular among ‘Honbap’ people. Convenience stores also attract ‘Singlesumers’ by selling individually packaged products and small but diverse convenience food. This trend increased the profits of convenience stores a lot. Being alone is not a problem anymore, but just a new phenomenon in Korea. It might seem quite strange for people in a country where collectivism is valued to be alone, but now it is normal.
It partly shows the youth culture in Korea. In the library, there are many students studying for the civil service exam. They are called ‘Gongsisaeng’. Because of the growing number of students studying this, taking the exam seems like another trend in college. Decreasing employment rates might be a major reason for this, making undergraduate students put a premium on a stable job and the guaranteed pension of public officials. “Korea’s civil exam craze is extremely shocking... It shows the collapse of a dead society,” a well-known global investor, Jim Rogers, said. Like what he had said, this phenomenon will take away the dreams and lives of people. Moreover, this will result in less creativity and innovation in society. This is a big problem for all members of our society.
Even high school students prepare for the test. They are called ‘Gongdingjok’. The rate of high school students taking the test has increased by 50% from 2013 to 2016. There are some high school students who study for the civil exam instead of studying for the Korean SAT (scholastic ability test). Other high school students study for both the CSAT and the civil exam.
Just a few years ago, working in a major company was one of the dream jobs. As people become more concerned about job stability , however, the job of public official has become more popular. Some of the benefits of being a public official include unconstrained maternity leave and better welfare. Also, students who study the humanities have less of an opportunity to enter private and large public firms. Small enterprises have a low pension, and the workers are forced to work overtime, sometimes even working on the weekends. These problems have become reasons to take the civil exam.
There is also the problem of poor housing options for students in college. According to the television channel MBC, the program ‘PD’s Note’, showed that seven out of ten college students experience a poor housing situation. They live in a smaller space than the minimum dwelling standards. Students who are not eligible to live in a dormitory work for a living and pay their own housing expenses.. In Seoul, because of the expensive cost of deposits, students usually live in a studio apartment with no deposit.
Last but not least, we will talk about another new term that has been coined ‘Dae2byeong’(College sophomore disease). It means that students come to college and choose a major based on employment rather than one that they have interest and aptitude in.. Eventually, students get into a state of ‘confusion’ about their identity, which hasn’t been fully developed through their adolescence. This confusion occurs from the questions “What am I?”, “What should I do for a living?” and other concerns. Since students don’t know themselves, and there is no answer to this confusion, they go through depression and have low self-esteem. Some students even decide to take time off or change their major. Here are some tips to gain confidence and boost your self- esteem.
<How to Gain Confidence and Boost Self-esteem>
1. Look at yourself objectively. → Be aware of your assets and flaws. Strengthen your assets and complement your flaws.
2. Believe in yourself. → If you don’t have trust in yourself neither do others. It will help you in achieving your goals.
3. Think optimistically. → Thinking on the bright side will improve your self-esteem.
I think the new coinage of words reflects the society of Korea quite thoroughly. Individuals are a reflection of society. There are many problems around us, but this was just partially shown. I hope the new government has resolutions to improve these problems. Although it is popular to follow new trends, it is also important to follow your heart and dreams too.
by Yu-Jin Ahn, CP Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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